Appel à communications – Causality and Explanation in the Sciences



19-21 September

Faculty of Arts and Philosophy, Ghent University

Blandijnberg 2, Ghent, Belgium

This is the sixth conference in the Causality in the Sciences series
of conferences.


Henk de Regt, Daniel Little, Michael Strevens, Mauricio Suarez and
James Woodward.


Causality and causal inference play a central role in the sciences.
Explanation is one of the central goals of scientific research. And
scientific explanation requires causal knowledge. At least, these are
well-known tenets in present-day philosophy of science.

In this conference, we aim to bring philosophers and scientists
together to discuss the relation between causality and explanation.

Even though the view that explanation requires causal knowledge is
widespread, some accounts of explanation present themselves as a-
causal or even as non-causal. Kitcher’s unificationism had it that
causal relations are epistemically dependent on explanatory relations,
not vice versa. In the mechanistic framework, interlevel explanation
is said to be constitutive, not causal. Other accounts of explanation
are primarily functional. What is the precise relation between causal
and a- or non-causal accounts of explanation?

Relatedly, one of the close relatives of explanation is understanding.
But what is the precise relation between explanation and
understanding? And what is the role of causation herein?

But wait a minute. There is no consensus as to what causation is.
Probabilistic, mechanistic, interventionist, and other accounts are
available on the market and it is still an interesting and open
question how precisely they relate to each other and how this bears
upon the problem of scientific explanation.

Are causality and explanation the same across scientific disciplines?
Is causality in physics the same as in psychology? Is causal discovery
in biology the same as in economics? And is explanation in geology the
same as in chemistry? Mathematics seems to be devoid of causation.
Does that mean that it is also devoid of explanation? And is there a
place for causation in technological explanation?

Our explanatory practices are partly determined by pragmatic
considerations. What precisely do we want to explain, and what do we
want to use our explanatory knowledge for? Do these pragmatic
considerations influence our search for causal relations? Do they play
a role, either implicitly or explicitly, in our algorithms for
automated causal discovery (such as algorithms based on causal Bayes

We welcome contributions addressing these and other questions.


How is causality related to explanation? Is all explanation causal?

Which accounts of causality best fit which accounts of explanation?

Do different sciences demand different notions of causality and

Which case studies shed most light on the uses of causality and
explanation in the sciences?


15 May: deadline for submission of titles and abstracts of papers for

* 500 words
* To be emailed to
* Please write “ABSTRACT SUBMISSION” in the Subject header of your
* A notification of receipt will be sent shortly after 15th May
* All abstracts will be carefully refereed

15 June: notification of acceptance of papers for presentation.

1 July: deadline for registration to attend the conference

* Instructions for registration will be listed on
in due course
* Please also send an email to to say that you
will be attending
(with “REGISTRATION” in its Subject header)

19-21 September: conference


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