Reed College

Philosophy Colloquium: Holly Andersen

Holly Andersen of Simon Fraser University will talk on the topic of "Causation as transfer of conserved quantities is not itself conserved".

The conserved quantity/mark transmission account of Salmon (1998) has suffered from a series of criticisms and receives little current consideration. Some of these criticisms are based on misunderstandings of his view, and some are legitimate, but can be addressed with a clarification or minor extension of his original account. Andersen will focus on an obscure illustration he uses of three different kinds of interactions - X, Y, and lambda - to draw out a consequence of his view that has vast consequences for what causation is like. She will show how his causal nexus can be treated as a series of edges and nodes, yielding a useful graphical representation. From there, she will demonstrate how the conserved quantity account requires that causation is not itself a conserved quantity. Put another way, causation as a conserved quantity is not meta-conserved. She will then sketch out how this underappreciated insight of Salmon's about different kinds of interactions is actually a kind of token-causation correlate of D separation for variable causation. This connection between the graphical causal nexus and D separation of graphs of causal structure among variables is a key step towards bringing a metaphysical foundation up underneath the methodological of interventionism.

Free and open to the public.

Friday, March 23 at 4:15pm to 6:15pm

Eliot Hall, 207

Event Type



Faculty & Staff, Students, Alumni, General Public





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