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Comparing Causal Frameworks: Potential Outcomes, Structural Models, Graphs, and Abstractions

Duligur Ibeling · Thomas Icard

Great Hall & Hall B1+B2 (level 1) #824
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Tue 12 Dec 3:15 p.m. PST — 5:15 p.m. PST


The aim of this paper is to make clear and precise the relationship between the Rubin causal model (RCM) and structural causal model (SCM) frameworks for causal inference. Adopting a neutral logical perspective, and drawing on previous work, we show what is required for an RCM to be representable by an SCM. A key result then shows that every RCM---including those that violate algebraic principles implied by the SCM framework---emerges as an abstraction of some representable RCM. Finally, we illustrate the power of this ameliorative perspective by pinpointing an important role for SCM principles in classic applications of RCMs; conversely, we offer a characterization of the algebraic constraints implied by a graph, helping to substantiate further comparisons between the two frameworks.

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