The Why of Things: Causality in Science, Medicine, and Life

Paperback | August 25, 2015

byPeter V. Rabins

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Why was there a meltdown at the Fukushima power plant? Why do some people get cancer and not others? Why is global warming happening? Why does one person get depressed in the face of life's vicissitudes while another finds resilience?

Questions like these-questions of causality-form the basis of modern scientific inquiry, posing profound intellectual and methodological challenges for researchers in the physical, natural, biomedical, and social sciences. In this groundbreaking book, noted psychiatrist and author Peter Rabins offers a conceptual framework for analyzing daunting questions of causality. Navigating a lively intellectual voyage between the shoals of strict reductionism and relativism, Rabins maps a three-facet model of causality and applies it to a variety of questions in science, medicine, economics, and more.

Throughout this book, Rabins situates his argument within relevant scientific contexts, such as quantum mechanics, cybernetics, chaos theory, and epigenetics. A renowned communicator of complex concepts and scientific ideas, Rabins helps readers stretch their minds beyond the realm of popular literary tipping points, blinks, and freakonomic explanations of the world.

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Why was there a meltdown at the Fukushima power plant? Why do some people get cancer and not others? Why is global warming happening? Why does one person get depressed in the face of life's vicissitudes while another finds resilience? Questions like these-questions of causality-form the basis of modern scientific inquiry, posing profo...

Peter Rabins is the Richman Family Professor for Alzheimer's and Related Diseases and director of the Geriatric Psychiatry program in the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences at Johns Hopkins University and a member of the Johns Hopkins Berman Bioethics Institute. He is the author or editor of eight books and coauthor of t...

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Format:PaperbackDimensions:304 pages, 9 × 6 × 0.68 inPublished:August 25, 2015Publisher:Columbia University PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0231164734

ISBN - 13:9780231164733

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Table of Contents

PrefaceIntroduction1. Historical Overview: The Four Approaches to Causality2. The Three-Facet Model: An Overview3. The Answer Is Either "No" or "Yes": Causality as a Categorical Concept4. Probabilities5. A Third Model of Causality: The Emergent6. Empirical: The Physical Sciences7. Empirical: The Biological Sciences8. Empirical: Epidemiology9. Narrative Truth: The Empathic Method10. Cause in the Ecclesiastic Tradition11. Seeking the Why of Things: The Model AppliedReferencesIndex

Editorial Reviews

A most enjoyable read and source of inspiration. The book constitutes a noteworthy addition to Professor Rabins' academic production? Philosophers of science - and perhaps more specifically philosophers interested in causality, explanation, or medicine - would gain a lot in reading it.