In the area of social science, in particular, although we have developed methods for reliably discovering the existence of causal relationships, we are not very good at using these to design effective social policy. Cartwright argues that in order to improve our ability to use causal relationships, it is essential to develop a theory of causation that makes explicit the connections between the nature of causation, our best methods for discovering causal relationships, and the uses to which these are put. I argue that Woodward’s interventionist theory of causation is uniquely suited to meet Cartwright’s challenge. More specifically, interventionist mechanisms can provide the bridge from ‘hunting causes’ to ‘using them’, if interventionists (i) tell us more about the nature of these mechanisms, and (ii) endorse the claim that it is these mechanisms (or whatever constitutes them) that make causal claims true. I illustrate how having an understanding of interventionist mechanisms can allow us to put causal knowledge to use via a detailed example from organic chemistry.
Keywords interventionism  mechanisms  Cartwright  organic chemistry
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DOI 10.1016/j.shpsa.2018.04.002
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