March 4, 2019

Causal Logics

Plan for Today:

(1) Types of Causes

Review:

  • "structural" causes
  • "triggering" events
  • types of conjunctural claims

(1) Causal Theories

  • Causal Logics

Types of Causes

structural causes

Those causes that are necessary in many sets of sufficient conditions

  • thus, structural causes contribute to an effect/outcome under many different conditions

triggering events

triggering events are those causes that are only necessary in one or a few sets of sufficient conditions - produce outcome only under specific conditions in combination with some structural causes - substitutable (some trigger, not this specific trigger needed

Types of Causes: Example

Which are structural causes? Which are triggers?

Global Financial Crisis of 2008

  1. Growing Wealth Inequality (structural)

  2. Weak Regulatory Structures (structural)

  3. Slow Wage Growth (structural)

  4. Collapse of Lehman Brothers investment bank (trigger)

Types of Causes: Example

Which are structural causes? Which are triggers?

Voting

  1. Level of education

  2. Competitiveness of election

  3. Income

  4. Raining on election day

Types of Causes: Example

Which are structural causes? Which are triggers?

Voting / Not Voting

  1. Level of education (structural)

  2. Competitiveness of election (structural)

  3. Income (structural)

  4. Raining on election day (structural)

Sufficient Causes Effect
A & B & Z E
A & B & Y E
A & B & X E
B & C & W E
C & D & V E
A & C & U E
A & D & T E

Preceding Table:

In this table, causality of \(E\) is multiple (7 different sufficient conditions) and conjunctural (each sufficient condition has multiple necessary conditions)

\(A, B, C, D\) are "structural causes" per our definition, because they are necessary for multiple sufficient conditions

  • of, \(A\) is a cause under the MOST conditions (5), \(D\) is a cause in the FEWEST conditions (2).

\(T,U,V,W,X,Y,Z\) are all triggers. They are causes under one specific set of conditions

Which causes?

Social science generally interested in structural causes.

We want prediction

  • This requires finding patterns/regularities in different contexts
  • triggering events may not be relevant across contexts
  • structural causes are.

Want causal patterns/regularities

Review:

Which type of conjunctural causes?

  1. Education has a positive effect on future earnings that is smaller for people who come from wealthy familities and larger for people from families with low or middle incomes.

  2. Without an elite that is divided over economic policy and a growing middle class, countries will not transition from dictatorship to democracy

Review:

Which type of conjunctural causes?

  1. Education has a positive effect on future earnings that is smaller for people who come from wealthy familities and larger for people from families with low or middle incomes. (Conditional Effect)

  2. Without an elite that is divided over economic policy and a growing middle class, countries will not transition from dictatorship to democracy. (Multiple Necessary Conditions)

Causal Logics

Causal Theory

A causal theory identifies systematic/structural causes that operate across space and time

  • It is a kind of general knowledge
  • Patterns/regularities within complexity
  • Helps to predict what will happen
  • Helps explain specific event

Example: Democracy and Health

Example: Democracy and Health

Might lead us to a causal claim:

"Democratizing causes countries to have better health outcomes on average."

Causal Logic says "why"

More democracy \(\xrightarrow{}\)

Voters can remove leaders \(\xrightarrow{}\)

Leaders try to make voters happy \(\xrightarrow{}\)

Governments spend more on improving citizen health \(\xrightarrow{}\)

Better health for citizens

Causal Logic

causal logic:

Is a set of statements about how and why a cause \(C\) produces its (claimed) effect \(E\).

  • Causal logic gives a causal chain that logically connects cause \(C\) to the effect \(E\): \(C \xrightarrow{} e_1 \xrightarrow{} e_2 \xrightarrow{} e_3 \xrightarrow{} E\)
  • Each step/mechanism is causal: \(e_1\) is a cause of \(e_2\)

Assumptions/assertions

  • Each step in the logic assumes a theory of how the world works/might work (why \(e_1 \to e_2\))
  • E.g.: do we believe this logic if we don't accept \(e_2 \xrightarrow{} e_3\)

Making a causal logic

Causal logic for claim that \(C \xrightarrow{causes} E\):

  1. Must start with cause \(C\), end with the effect \(E\)
  2. Each step is related to the next through a causal relationship
  3. Not a chronological list of specific events. It is a general sequence through which one things causes another (structural causes)

Example: Democracy and Health

More democracy \(\xrightarrow{}\)

Voters can remove leaders \(\not\xrightarrow{??}\)

Leaders try to make voters happy \(\xrightarrow{}\)

Governments spend more on improving citizen health \(\xrightarrow{}\)

Better health for citizens


For "??" step to work, assume that:

  • Politicians motivated to stay in office

Example: Democracy and Health

More democracy \(\xrightarrow{}\)

Voters can remove leaders \(\xrightarrow{}\)

Leaders try to make voters happy \(\not\xrightarrow{??}\)

Governments spend more on improving citizen health \(\xrightarrow{}\)

Better health for citizens


For "??" step to work, assume that:

  • Votes are cast based on health policy/outcomes

Why causal logics?

Tell us how and when cause creates effect

  • this can help refine the scope (generality) of the causal claim
  • link to structural causes and probabilistic causal claims

Suggest other causes

  • If \(C_1 \xrightarrow{} e_1 \xrightarrow{} e_2 \xrightarrow{} e_3 \xrightarrow{} E\)
  • We can find a \(C_2\) that causes \(\to e_2 \to e_3 \to E\)

Improve prescriptive claims

  • If we can't change \(C\), can we change \(e_2\)?
  • Policies require specifics: causal logics give us more specifics on how

Competing Causal Logics

Wealthy countries are less likely to experience civil war. Why?

Three different logics

  1. Wealth \(\xrightarrow{}\) Larger defense budget \(\xrightarrow{}\) Rivals deterred \(\xrightarrow{}\) Less civil war
  2. Wealth \(\xrightarrow{}\) Higher standard of living \(\xrightarrow{}\) Fewer grievances \(\xrightarrow{}\) Weak support for change \(\xrightarrow{}\) Less civil war
  3. Wealth \(\xrightarrow{}\) Lots of job opportunities \(\xrightarrow{}\) Fewer listless young men \(\xrightarrow{}\) Fewer rebel recruits \(\xrightarrow{}\) Less civil war

Competing Causal Logics

If you were a rebel (trying to start a civil war), what would you do if 1 were true? 2? 3?

Three different logics

  1. Wealth \(\xrightarrow{}\) Larger defense budget \(\xrightarrow{}\) Rivals deterred \(\xrightarrow{}\) Less civil war
  2. Wealth \(\xrightarrow{}\) Higher standard of living \(\xrightarrow{}\) Fewer grievances \(\xrightarrow{}\) Weak support for change \(\xrightarrow{}\) Less civil war
  3. Wealth \(\xrightarrow{}\) Lots of job opportunities \(\xrightarrow{}\) Fewer listless young men \(\xrightarrow{}\) Fewer rebel recruits \(\xrightarrow{}\) Less civil war

Competing Causal Logics

If you were the ruler (trying to prevent a civil war), what would you do if 1 were true? 2? 3?

Three different logics

  1. Wealth \(\xrightarrow{}\) Larger defense budget \(\xrightarrow{}\) Rivals deterred \(\xrightarrow{}\) Less civil war
  2. Wealth \(\xrightarrow{}\) Higher standard of living \(\xrightarrow{}\) Fewer grievances \(\xrightarrow{}\) Weak support for change \(\xrightarrow{}\) Less civil war
  3. Wealth \(\xrightarrow{}\) Lots of job opportunities \(\xrightarrow{}\) Fewer listless young men \(\xrightarrow{}\) Fewer rebel recruits \(\xrightarrow{}\) Less civil war

When will wealth cause lower chance of civil war?