Identifying causal relations is fundamental in both science and the law, but typically in different forms. Science, usually but not always, aims to find invariant causal relations from data on variable values of quantities, for example the relation between air pressure and the height of mercury in a barometer. In law the notion of a causal relation extends beyond the relations identified as causal by scientists and philosophers embracing relations between complete abstractions, for example when non-payment of rent is a ‘cause’ of the forfeiture of a lease.
One lecture in this session, by Stapleton, will discuss how law structures its causal enquiry to serve law’s diverse social functions and how Western law rests on a fundamental normative commitment to an ‘individualistic’ model of responsibility. The other, by Glymour, will discuss the philosophical history of search for methods to discover causal relations, culminating in 21st century artificial intelligence methods, with examples from planetary science, epidemiology, genomics and elsewhere, and the difficulty of comparably exact methods for causal judgements about particular events.
Clark Glymour (Carnegie Mellon University)
Jane Stapleton (University of Cambridge)