Cartwright and Mill on Tendencies and Capacities

In Luc Bovens, Carl Hoefer & Stephan Hartmann (eds.), Nancy Cartwright's Philosophy of Science. Routledge. pp. 291--302 (2008)
  Copy   BIBTEX

Abstract

This paper examines the relation between Cartwright's concept of 'capacities' and Mill's concept of 'tendencies' and argues that they are not equivalent. Cartwright's concept of 'capacities' and her motivation to adopt it as a central notion in her philosophy of science are described. It is argued that the Millian concept of 'tendencies' is distinct because Mill restricts its use to a set of special cases. These are the cases in which causes combine 'mechanically'. Hence for Mill 'tendencies' do not merely describe the operation of causes, but also and perhaps even primarily how they combine. This does not hold of Cartwrightian capacities which are meant to have unlimited applicability. Mill also explicitly denies the realism of 'capacities' in a sense which overlaps with Cartwright's. Her attempt to derive empirist credentials for her notion of capacity from Mill is therefore unsuccessful.

Links

PhilArchive

External links

  • This entry has no external links. Add one.
Setup an account with your affiliations in order to access resources via your University's proxy server

Through your library

Analytics

Added to PP
2009-07-15

Downloads
1,615 (#6,610)

6 months
105 (#45,355)

Historical graph of downloads
How can I increase my downloads?

Author's Profile

Christoph Schmidt-Petri
London School of Economics (PhD)

References found in this work

How the laws of physics lie.Nancy Cartwright - 1983 - New York: Oxford University Press.
Nature's capacities and their measurement.Nancy Cartwright - 1989 - New York: Oxford University Press.
The cement of the universe.John Leslie Mackie - 1974 - Oxford,: Clarendon Press.
The Cement of the Universe.John Earman & J. L. Mackie - 1976 - Philosophical Review 85 (3):390.
Do the Laws of Physics State the Facts?Nancy Cartwright - 1980 - Pacific Philosophical Quarterly 61 (1-2):75-84.

View all 14 references / Add more references