Mechanistic Evidence: Disambiguating the Russo–Williamson Thesis

Abstract

Russo and Williamson claim that establishing causal claims requires mechanistic and difference-making evidence. In this article, I will argue that Russo and Williamson's formulation of their thesis is multiply ambiguous. I will make three distinctions: mechanistic evidence as type vs object of evidence; what mechanism or mechanisms we want evidence of; and how much evidence of a mechanism we require. I will feed these more precise meanings back into the Russo?Williamson thesis and argue that it is both true and false: two weaker versions of the thesis are worth supporting, while the stronger versions are not. Further, my distinctions are of wider concern because they allow us to make more precise claims about what kinds of evidence are required in particular cases

Download options

PhilArchive



    Upload a copy of this work     Papers currently archived: 72,722

External links

Setup an account with your affiliations in order to access resources via your University's proxy server

Through your library

Analytics

Added to PP
2011-07-28

Downloads
86 (#138,651)

6 months
2 (#258,871)

Historical graph of downloads
How can I increase my downloads?

Author's Profile

Phyllis Illari
University College London

Citations of this work

Measuring Effectiveness.Jacob Stegenga - 2015 - Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part C: Studies in History and Philosophy of Biological and Biomedical Sciences 54:62-71.
Philosophers on Drugs.Bennett Holman - 2019 - Synthese 196 (11):4363-4390.
Establishing Causal Claims in Medicine.Jon Williamson - 2019 - International Studies in the Philosophy of Science 32 (1):33-61.

View all 57 citations / Add more citations

Similar books and articles

How Probabilistic Causation Can Account for the Use of Mechanistic Evidence.Erik Weber - 2009 - International Studies in the Philosophy of Science 23 (3):277-295.
Interpreting Causality in the Health Sciences.Federica Russo & Jon Williamson - 2007 - International Studies in the Philosophy of Science 21 (2):157 – 170.
No Evidence is False.Clayton Littlejohn - 2013 - Acta Analytica 28 (2):145-159.
Evidence and Knowledge.Clayton Littlejohn - 2011 - Erkenntnis 74 (2):241-262.
Evidence Does Not Equal Knowledge.Aaron Rizzieri - 2011 - Philosophical Studies 153 (2):235-242.
The Russo–Williamson Theses in the Social Sciences: Causal Inference Drawing on Two Types of Evidence.François Claveau - 2012 - Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part C: Studies in History and Philosophy of Biological and Biomedical Sciences 43 (4):806-813.
Mechanisms: What Are They Evidence for in Evidence-Based Medicine?Holly Andersen - 2012 - Journal of Evaluation in Clinical Practice 18 (5):992-999.
Mechanisms Are Real and Local.Phyllis McKay Illari & Jon Williamson - 2011 - In Phyllis McKay Illari, Federica Russo & Jon Williamson (eds.), Causality in the Sciences. Oxford University Press.
Why Williamson Should Be a Sceptic.Dylan Dodd - 2007 - Philosophical Quarterly 57 (229):635–649.