David Bourget (Western Ontario)
David Chalmers (ANU, NYU)
Rafael De Clercq
Jack Alan Reynolds
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Philosophy of the Social Sciences 34 (2):237-259 (2004)
mechanism" is frequently encountered in the social science literature, but there is considerable confusion about the exact meaning of the term. The article begins by addressing the main conceptual issues. Use of this term is the hallmark of an approach that is critical of the explanatory deficits of correlational analysis and of the covering-law model, advocating instead the causal reconstruction of the processes that account for given macro-phenomena. The term "social mechanisms" should be used to refer to recurrent processes generating a specific kind of outcome. Explanation of social macro-phenomena by mechanisms typically involves causal regression to lower-level elements, as stipulated by methodological individualism. While there exist a good many mechanism models to explain emergent effects of collective behavior, we lack a similarly systematic treatment of generative mechanisms in which institutions and specific kinds of structural configurations play the decisive role. Key Words: causal regression correlational analysis emergent effects micro-macro processes social mechanisms structural determinants.
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Citations of this work BETA
Jaakko Kuorikoski (2009). Two Concepts of Mechanism: Componential Causal System and Abstract Form of Interaction. International Studies in the Philosophy of Science 23 (2):143 – 160.
Zenonas Norkus (2005). Mechanisms as Miracle Makers? The Rise and Inconsistencies of the "Mechanismic Approach" in Social Science and History. History and Theory 44 (3):348–372.
Nathalie Bulle (2009). Under What Conditions Can Formal Models of Social Action Claim Explanatory Power? International Studies in the Philosophy of Science 23 (1):47-64.
Ronald Jepperson & John W. Meyer (2011). Multiple Levels of Analysis and the Limitations of Methodological Individualisms. Sociological Theory 29 (1):54 - 73.
Stephen Armet (2013). Identifying Causal Mechanisms That Explain the Emergence of the Modern Dutch State. Journal of Critical Realism 12 (3):301-335.
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