Date of Original Version
Proceedings of the 2004 Biennial Meetings, Philosophy of Science, V. 72, N. 5, pp. 927-940.
Abstract or Table of Contents
For nearly as long as the word “correlation” has been part of statistical parlance, students have been warned that correlation does not prove causation, and that only experimental studies, e.g., randomized clinical trials, can establish the existence of a causal relationship. Over the last few decades, somewhat of a consensus has emerged between statisticians, computer scientists, and philosophers on how to represent causal claims and connect them to probabilistic relations. One strand of this work studies the conditions under which evidence accumulated from non-experimental (observational) studies can be used to infer a causal relationship. In this paper, I compare the typical conditions required to infer that one variable is a direct cause of another in observational and experimental studies. I argue that they are essentially the same.