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The Chances of Explanation:
Causal Explanation in the Social, Medical, and Physical Sciences
Paul Humphreys

Paperback | 2014 | $29.95 | £24.95 | ISBN: 9780691605821
Hardcover | 2016 | $74.95 | £62.95 | ISBN: 9780691634739
182 pp. | 6 x 9
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Reviews | Table of Contents

Google full text of this book:

This book provides a post-positivist theory of deterministic and probabilistic causality that supports both quantitative and qualitative explanations. Features of particular interest include the ability to provide true explanations in contexts where our knowledge is incomplete, a systematic interpretation of causal modeling techniques in the social sciences, and a direct realist view of causal relations that is compatible with a liberal empiricism. The book should be of wide interest to both philosophers and scientists.

Originally published in 1989.

The Princeton Legacy Library uses the latest print-on-demand technology to again make available previously out-of-print books from the distinguished backlist of Princeton University Press. These editions preserve the original texts of these important books while presenting them in durable paperback and hardcover editions. The goal of the Princeton Legacy Library is to vastly increase access to the rich scholarly heritage found in the thousands of books published by Princeton University Press since its founding in 1905.


"A careful and sophisticated attempt to explicate the notion of explanation, especially in the probabilistic or statistical context."--Lawrence Sklar, The American Scientist


"This work is by far the best thing written on probabilistic causality and probabilistic explanation to date."--Wesley C. Salmon, University of Pittsburgh

"The Chances of Explanation--which is, incidentally, extraordinarily clever and interesting--ought to be put into the hands of any social scientist who engages in probabilistic explanation of any sort."--Alan Ryan, Princeton University

Table of Contents:

  • FrontMatter, pg. i
  • CONTENTS, pg. vii
  • PREFACE, pg. ix
  • CHAPTER ONE. Traditional Causation, pg. 3
  • CHAPTER TWO. Probabilistic Causation, pg. 22
  • CHAPTER THREE. Cause and Chance, pg. 61
  • CHAPTER FOUR. Scientific Explanations, pg. 98
  • APPENDIX ONE. Covariance Measures, pg. 143
  • APPENDIX TWO. Extension of the Basic Quantitative Theory, pg. 145
  • APPENDIX THREE. Transitivity and Negative Links, pg. 153
  • REFERENCES, pg. 158
  • INDEX, pg. 167


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File created: 7/11/2017

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