The determinables of explanatory mechanisms

Synthese 120 (1):77-87 (1999)
Abstract
Sometimes instances of perceived causation turn out to lack causal relata. The reasons may vary. Causation may display itself as prevention, or as omission, and in some cases causation occurs within such complex environments that few of the things we associate with causes and effects are true of them, etc. But even then, there may be causal explanations to be had. This suggests that the explanatory power of causal reports have other sources than the relation between cause and effect. In this paper it is argued that the causal mechanisms we allude to in explanations have relevant determinables other than the traditionally acknowledged ones. The traditional but in this aspect mistaken view of causation is to be blamed. Discernability, complexity of manifestation, originality, and even stability have often been overlooked. We know, that, in fact, heat is a constant attendant of flame; but what is the connexion between them, we have no room so much as to conjecture or imagine. (Hume 1777, VII. 2, 64).
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