PHI302 CAUSATION IN SCIENCE
Time: Wednesdays 14-16
Place: Tårnbygningen T331
Causation is a key concept in all empirical sciences. Our methods tell us what counts as causal evidence and our theories are about causal explanation and prediction. The ultimate scientific aim is to understand and influence the world around us. But in order to do this what we need to know is what causes what. While scientists deal with the concrete details, it is philosophers who consider in the abstract what it is for one thing to cause another. The aim of this course is to bring together that abstract philosophical approach to causation with a more concrete understanding of the work actually undertaken by the practitioners of the sciences.
We will look at how causation is understood by philosophers, but also what existing scientific methods are assuming about causation. In this sense, at least, our research is defined and guided by conceptual and methodological assumptions. This course will encourage and fascilitate a critical reflection upon some of these assumptions through lectures and discussions.
Suggested background reading for the course is Causation - A very short introduction.
- Do we need causation in science?
- Should science construct theories?
- How much data do we need to establish causation?
- Is evidence of causation based on causation?
- Same cause, same effect?
- How to interpret statistical data
- Do causes make a difference?
- What is the external validity of RCTs?
- Understanding causation by way of failure
- The causal power of organisation
Teaching form: seminars with lectures and discussions, 2 hours a week
Exam: written assignment
Registration deadline: 1 February
Course responsible: Rani Lill Anjum