The causal-process-model theory of mechanisms

Dowe, Phil (2011). The causal-process-model theory of mechanisms. In Phyllis McKay Illari, Federica Russo and Jon Williamson (Ed.), Causality in the sciences (pp. 865-879) Oxford, U.K: Oxford University Press. doi:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199574131.003.0040

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Author Dowe, Phil
Title of chapter The causal-process-model theory of mechanisms
Title of book Causality in the sciences
Place of Publication Oxford, U.K
Publisher Oxford University Press
Publication Year 2011
Sub-type Research book chapter (original research)
DOI 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199574131.003.0040
Open Access Status
ISBN 9780199574131
Editor Phyllis McKay Illari
Federica Russo
Jon Williamson
Chapter number 40
Start page 865
End page 879
Total pages 15
Total chapters 42
Collection year 2012
Language eng
Abstract/Summary Wesley Salmon and I have argued that causation and causal explanation need to appeal to causal processes understood in terms of conserved quantities. This has the consequence of ruling out absence ‘causation’ as being genuine causation. Carl Craver has argued persuasively that absences are crucial in causal explanations in neuroscience, and so he gives an account of mechanisms in terms of causal relevance where the latter is understood along the lines of causal modelling. This allows for absences to be causes and hence to feature in causal explanations, but it is not compatible with the claim that causal explanation needs to appeal to causal processes understood in terms of conserved quantities. I therefore offer an account of mechanisms, in particular the role of causal relevance in mechanisms, which can respect the theory that causation involves causal processes understood in terms of conserved quantities, but which also allows absences to figure in causal explanation.
Keyword Causation
Absence causation
Conserved quantity theory
Q-Index Code B1
Q-Index Status Confirmed Code
Institutional Status UQ
Additional Notes PART VII Causality and mechanisms

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Created: Wed, 13 Jul 2011, 09:51:04 EST by Assoc Prof Phil Dowe on behalf of School of Historical and Philosophical Inquiry