David Bourget (Western Ontario)
David Chalmers (ANU, NYU)
Rafael De Clercq
Jack Alan Reynolds
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Philosophy of the Social Sciences 34 (1):55-78 (2004)
Several authors have claimed that mechanisms play a vital role in distinguishing between causation and mere correlation in the social sciences. Such claims are sometimes interpreted to mean that without mechanisms, causal inference in social science is impossible. The author agrees with critics of this proposition but explains how the account of how mechanisms aid causal inference can be interpreted in a way that does not depend on it. Nevertheless, he shows that this more charitable version of the account is still unsuccessful as it stands. Consequently, he advances a proposal for shoring up the account, which is founded on the possibility of acquiring knowledge of social mechanisms by linking together norms or practices found in a society. Key Words: causality social mechanisms interpretation anthropology.
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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.
Phyllis McKay Illari (2011). Mechanistic Evidence: Disambiguating the Russo–Williamson Thesis. International Studies in the Philosophy of Science 25 (2):139 - 157.
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.
Frank Hindriks (2013). Explanation, Understanding, and Unrealistic Models. Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part A 44 (3):523-531.
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.
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