On 'Stabilising' medical mechanisms, truth-makers and epistemic causality: a critique to Williamson and Russo's approach
David Bourget (Western Ontario)
David Chalmers (ANU, NYU)
Rafael De Clercq
Jack Alan Reynolds
Learn more about PhilPapers
Synthese 187 (2):785-800 (2012)
In this paper I offer an anti-Humean critique to Williamson and Russo’s approach to medical mechanisms. I focus on one of the specific claims made by Williamson and Russo, namely the claim that micro-structural ‘mechanisms’ provide evidence for the stability across populations of causal relationships ascertained at the (macro-) level of (test) populations. This claim is grounded in the epistemic account of causality developed by Williamson, an account which—while not relying exclusively on mechanistic evidence for justifying causal judgements—appeals nevertheless to mechanisms, and rejects their anti-Humean interpretation in terms of capacities, powers, potencies, etc. By using (and expanding on) Cartwright’s basic critique against Humean mechanisms, I suggest that, in order to move beyond the level of plausibility, Williamson and Russo’s position is in need of a clarification as to the occurent reading of the components, functioning and interferences of mechanisms. Relatedly, as concerns Williamson’s epistemic account of causation, I argue that this account is in need of a more straightforward answer as to what truth-makers its causal claims should have.
|Keywords||Causation Medical causes Anti-Humeanism Capacity Cartwright Williamson Russo|
|Categories||categorize this paper)|
Setup an account with your affiliations in order to access resources via your University's proxy server
Configure custom proxy (use this if your affiliation does not provide a proxy)
|Through your library|
References found in this work BETA
Alexander Bird (2005). Laws and Essences. Ratio 18 (4):437–461.
Nancy Cartwright (1979). Causal Laws and Effective Strategies. Noûs 13 (4):419-437.
Nancy Cartwright (2007). Hunting Causes and Using Them: Approaches in Philosophy and Economics. Cambridge University Press.
Nancy Cartwright (2002). In Favor of Laws That Are Not Ceteris Paribus After All. Erkenntnis 57 (3):425Ð439.
Citations of this work BETA
Brendan Clarke, Donald Gillies, Phyllis Illari, Federica Russo & Jon Williamson (2014). Mechanisms and the Evidence Hierarchy. Topoi 33 (2):339-360.
Stefan Dragulinescu (2012). On Anti Humeanism and Medical Singular Causation. Acta Analytica 27 (3):265-292.
Similar books and articles
Phyllis McKay Illari (2011). Mechanistic Evidence: Disambiguating the Russo–Williamson Thesis. International Studies in the Philosophy of Science 25 (2):139 - 157.
Federica Russo & Jon Williamson (2012). EnviroGenomarkers: The Interplay Between Mechanisms and Difference Making in Establishing Causal Claims. Medicine Studies 3 (4):249-262.
Federica Russo & Jon Williamson (2007). Interpreting Causality in the Health Sciences. International Studies in the Philosophy of Science 21 (2):157 – 170.
Erik Weber (2009). How Probabilistic Causation Can Account for the Use of Mechanistic Evidence. International Studies in the Philosophy of Science 23 (3):277-295.
Brendan Clarke (2011). Causality in Medicine with Particular Reference to the Viral Causation of Cancers. Dissertation, University College London
Phyllis McKay Illari, Federica Russo & Jon Williamson (eds.) (2011). Causality in the Sciences. Oxford University Press.
Jon Williamson (2007). Interpreting Causality in the Health Sciences. International Studies in the Philosophy of Science 21 (2):157-170.
Jon Williamson (2006). Dispositional Versus Epistemic Causality. Minds and Machines 16 (3):259-276.
Jon Williamson (2009). Probabilistic Theories of Causality. In Helen Beebee, Peter Menzies & Christopher Hitchcock (eds.), The Oxford Handbook of Causation. Oxford University Press. 185--212.
Phyllis McKay Illari & Jon Williamson (2011). Mechanisms Are Real and Local. In Phyllis McKay Illari, Federica Russo & Jon Williamson (eds.), Causality in the Sciences. Oup Oxford.
Jon Williamson (2006). Causal Pluralism Versus Epistemic Causality. Philosophica 77 (1):69-96.
Federica Russo (2009). Variational Causal Claims in Epidemiology. Perspectives in Biology and Medicine 52 (4):540-554.
Lorenzo Casini, Phyllis Mckay Illari, Federica Russo & Jon Williamson (2011). Models for Prediction, Explanation and Control. Theoria 26 (1):5-33.
Added to index2011-10-18
Total downloads18 ( #97,167 of 1,100,127 )
Recent downloads (6 months)5 ( #66,996 of 1,100,127 )
How can I increase my downloads?