An Abductive Theory of Constitution

Philosophy of Science 84 (2):214-233 (2017)
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Abstract

The first part of this paper finds Craver’s (2007) mutual manipulability theory (MM) of constitution inadequate, as it definitionally ties constitution to the feasibility of idealized experiments, which, however, are unrealizable in principle. As an alternative, the second part develops an abductive theory of constitution (NDC), which exploits the fact that phenomena and their constituents are unbreakably coupled via common causes. The best explanation for this common-cause coupling is the existence of an additional dependence relation, viz. constitution. Apart from adequately capturing the essential characteristics of constitution missed by MM, NDC has important ramifications for constitutional discovery—most notably, that there is no experimentum crucis for constitution, not even under ideal discovery circumstances.

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