March 11, 2021


1. Review

  • varieties of deterministic causal claims
  • complex causality

2. Probabilistic causal claims

  • complexity \(\to\) probabilistic claims
  • recognizing probabilistic causal claims
  • conditional effects



Complex Causality

Causality may be deterministic… there are exact conditions for when effect always/never happens.

But in reality, it is almost always complex

  • multiple, conjunctural, multiple AND conjunctural
  • (INUS/SUIN conditions: see here)

Voting Experiment

Why do people vote?

  • Lot’s of causal forces determine whether you vote


Voting Experiment


Complex Causality

Does it make sense to say that “being shamed” is a necessary condition for voting?

  • No. Clearly some people voted in absence of shaming

Does it make sense to say that “being shamed” is a sufficient condition for voting?

  • No. Some people were shamed but did not vote.

Deterministic Causal Claims?

We are often unable to fully describe deterministic rules for what causes produce an effect

  • It is straightforward to state causal claims probabilistically: being shamed increases likelihood of voting.

Probabilistic Causal Claims

probabilistic causal claims

are claims that the presence/absence of a cause \(C\) makes an effect \(E\) more or less likely to occur. Or cause \(C\) increases/decreases effect \(E\) on average

  • In contrast to deterministic causal claims this implies
    • effect \(E\) can happen when \(C\) is absent
    • effect \(E\) may not happen when \(C\) is present
  • NOT a claim that politics has some inherent randomness (e.g. quantum mechanics)
  • Usually make these claims when interested in effects of causes

Interlude: Coin flips:

Interlude: Coin flips: