Philosophical Studies

, Volume 174, Issue 11, pp 2645–2666 | Cite as

Uncovering constitutive relevance relations in mechanisms

  • Alexander GebharterEmail author


In this paper I argue that constitutive relevance relations in mechanisms behave like a special kind of causal relation in at least one important respect: Under suitable circumstances constitutive relevance relations produce the Markov factorization. Based on this observation one may wonder whether standard methods for causal discovery could be fruitfully applied to uncover constitutive relevance relations. This paper is intended as a first step into this new area of philosophical research. I investigate to what extent the PC algorithm, originally developed for causal search, can be used for constitutive relevance discovery. I also discuss possible objections and certain limitations of a constitutive relevance discovery procedure based on PC.


Constitutive relevance Mechanisms Causal Bayes nets Discovery Causal modeling 



This work was supported by Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG), research unit FOR 1063. My thanks go to Michael Baumgartner, Lorenzo Casini, Jens Harbecke, Beate Krickel, Gerhard Schurz, and Jon Williamson for important discussions. Thanks also to an anonymous referee for helpful comments.


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© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Düsseldorf Center for Logic and Philosophy of Science (DCLPS)University of DüsseldorfDüsseldorfGermany

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