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Causality in the Sciences$
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Phyllis McKay Illari, Federica Russo, and Jon Williamson

Print publication date: 2011

Print ISBN-13: 9780199574131

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: September 2011

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199574131.001.0001

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The structural theory of causation

The structural theory of causation

Chapter:
(p.697) 33 The structural theory of causation
Source:
Causality in the Sciences
Author(s):

Judea Pearl

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199574131.003.0033

This chapter presents a general theory of causation based on the Structural Causal Model (SCM) described by Pearl (2000a). The theory subsumes and unifies current approaches to causation, including graphical, potential outcome, probabilistic, decision analytical, and structural equation models, and provides both a mathematical foundation and a friendly calculus for the analysis of causes and counterfactuals. In particular, the chapter demonstrates how the theory engenders a coherent methodology for inferring (from a combination of data and assumptions) answers to three types of causal queries: (1) queries about the effects of potential interventions, (2) queries about probabilities of counterfactuals, and (3) queries about direct and indirect effects.

Keywords:   structural equation models, confounding, graphical methods, counterfactuals, causal effects, potential-outcome, probabilistic causation

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