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The Why of ThingsCausality in Science, Medicine, and Life$
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Peter Rabins

Print publication date: 2013

Print ISBN-13: 9780231164726

Published to Columbia Scholarship Online: November 2015

DOI: 10.7312/columbia/9780231164726.001.0001

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Probabilities, Odds, and Risks

Probabilities, Odds, and Risks

Predispositions and Provocations as Causes

(p.45) 4 Probabilities, Odds, and Risks
The Why of Things

Peter V. Rabins

Columbia University Press

This chapter describes the probabilistic model, in which causes are conceptualized as events that affect the likelihood that another event will occur. In this model, causes act as influences, risk factors, predispositions, modifiers, and buffers. The complexity of the probabilistic concept of cause begins with the definition of the word “probability.” Its primary meaning relates to predictability or prognostication, that is, the likelihood of specific future outcomes or effects. The implication of this definition is that there is uncertainty as to the outcome. This chapter provides a history overview of the concept of probabilistic cause and considers the characteristics of probabilistic reasoning that are relevant to causality, along with the challenges of causal probabilistic logic, limitations of the probabilistic model, and whether probabilistic reasoning is different from categorical reasoning. It also outlines the criteria for choosing the appropriate model of causality.

Keywords:   probabilistic model, risk factors, predispositions, probability, probabilistic cause, causality, probabilistic logic, probabilistic reasoning, categorical reasoning

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