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Causation in a physical world

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TitleInfo
Title
Causation in a physical world
Name (type = personal)
NamePart (type = family)
Blanchard
NamePart (type = given)
Thomas
NamePart (type = date)
1984-
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Thomas Blanchard
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author
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Loewer
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Barry Loewer
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Advisory Committee
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chair
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Fitelson
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Branden
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Branden Fitelson
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Advisory Committee
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internal member
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Schaffer
NamePart (type = given)
Jonathan
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Jonathan Schaffer
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Advisory Committee
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internal member
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Ismael
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Jenann
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Jenann Ismael
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Advisory Committee
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outside member
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Rutgers University
Role
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degree grantor
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Graduate School - New Brunswick
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school
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Text
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theses
OriginInfo
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2014
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2014-10
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2014
Place
PlaceTerm (type = code)
xx
Language
LanguageTerm (authority = ISO639-2b); (type = code)
eng
Abstract (type = abstract)
This dissertation offers a new solution to the problem of causation in the physical world. Fundamental physics leaves little space for causation. Causation is local and asymmetric, but physical laws are global and time-symmetric. However, causal notions are indispensable. In particular we need causation to make sense of effective strategies. The problem of causation in the physical world is the challenge of reconciling the a-causal physical picture of the world with the need for causation. Chapter 1 describes the problem in detail and proposes a new methodology to solve it. The proper method to handle the problem isn’t conceptual analysis. Rather, solutions to the problem should be judged on how well they physically explain actual facts about effective strategies. Chapter 2 examines the main attempts to solve the problem. I argue that they all face various problems. In particular, current attempts to locate causation in the physical world all have trouble making sense of the fact that we need causal knowledge to make rational decisions. To solve this problem, the first step is to provide a satisfactory explanation of why only those correlations that are (intuitively) causal can be exploited for the purpose of securing desired outcomes. In chapter 3, I propose such an explanation. I argue that causal correlations are the only ones that can be exploited according to evidential decision theory (EDT). This is a surprising claim, since EDT is widely thought to recommend acting for the sake of outcomes one cannot cause. I arguethat this is actually not the case, and that EDT in fact provides a plausible account of exploitable correlations. In chapter 4, I use this account to offer a new solution to the problem of causation in a physical world. I argue that causal dependence is a matter of the cause and the effect standing in certain probabilistic relations to a third event called a probabilistic intervention. Probabilistic interventions are events that need not involve agency but nonetheless mimic certain crucial features of deliberation. I argue that this account provides a plausible solution to the problem of causation in a physical world.
Subject (authority = local)
Topic
Causation
Subject (authority = RUETD)
Topic
Philosophy
Subject (authority = ETD-LCSH)
Topic
Philosophy of mind
Subject (authority = ETD-LCSH)
Topic
Causation
Subject (authority = ETD-LCSH)
Topic
Decision making
RelatedItem (type = host)
TitleInfo
Title
Rutgers University Electronic Theses and Dissertations
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ETD
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ETD_5833
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electronic resource
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application/pdf
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text/xml
Extent
1 online resource (ix, 174 p. : ill.)
Note (type = degree)
Ph.D.
Note (type = bibliography)
Includes bibliographical references
Note (type = statement of responsibility)
by Thomas Blanchard
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TitleInfo
Title
Graduate School - New Brunswick Electronic Theses and Dissertations
Identifier (type = local)
rucore19991600001
Location
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NjNbRU
Identifier (type = doi)
doi:10.7282/T36T0K3M
Genre (authority = ExL-Esploro)
ETD doctoral
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Rights

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The author owns the copyright to this work.
RightsHolder (type = personal)
Name
FamilyName
Blanchard
GivenName
Thomas
Role
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RightsEvent
Type
Permission or license
DateTime (encoding = w3cdtf); (qualifier = exact); (point = start)
2014-09-11 16:10:23
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Name
Thomas Blanchard
Role
Copyright holder
Affiliation
Rutgers University. Graduate School - New Brunswick
AssociatedObject
Type
License
Name
Author Agreement License
Detail
I hereby grant to the Rutgers University Libraries and to my school the non-exclusive right to archive, reproduce and distribute my thesis or dissertation, in whole or in part, and/or my abstract, in whole or in part, in and from an electronic format, subject to the release date subsequently stipulated in this submittal form and approved by my school. I represent and stipulate that the thesis or dissertation and its abstract are my original work, that they do not infringe or violate any rights of others, and that I make these grants as the sole owner of the rights to my thesis or dissertation and its abstract. I represent that I have obtained written permissions, when necessary, from the owner(s) of each third party copyrighted matter to be included in my thesis or dissertation and will supply copies of such upon request by my school. I acknowledge that RU ETD and my school will not distribute my thesis or dissertation or its abstract if, in their reasonable judgment, they believe all such rights have not been secured. I acknowledge that I retain ownership rights to the copyright of my work. I also retain the right to use all or part of this thesis or dissertation in future works, such as articles or books.
Copyright
Status
Copyright protected
Availability
Status
Open
Reason
Permission or license
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Technical

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windows xp
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