The causal argument against component forces

Dialectica 63 (4):525-554 (2009)
Do component forces exist in conjoined circumstances? Cartwright (1980) says no; Creary (1981) says yes. I'm inclined towards Cartwright's side in this matter, but find several problems with her argumentation. My primary aim here is to present a better, distinctly causal, argument against component forces: very roughly, I argue that the joint posit of component and resultant forces in conjoined circumstances gives rise to a threat of causal overdetermination, avoidance of which best proceeds via eliminativism about component forces. A secondary aim is to show that rejecting component forces does not require, pace Cartwright, rejecting certain attractive theses about what laws of nature express and the role such laws play in scientific explanations.
Keywords forces  Newtonian mechanics  causal exclusion  component forces  resultant forces
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Reprint years 2010
DOI 10.1111/j.1746-8361.2009.01216.x
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Olivier Massin (forthcoming). The Composition of Forces. British Journal for the Philosophy of Science:axv048.
Dwayne Moore (2012). A Non-Reductive Model of Component Forces and Resultant Force. International Studies in the Philosophy of Science 26 (4):359-380.

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