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Mechanisms revisited

Abstract

This paper defends an interventionist treatment of mechanisms and contrasts this with Waskan (forthcoming). Interventionism embodies a difference-making conception of causation. I contrast such conceptions with geometrical/mechanical or “actualist” conceptions, associating Waskan’s proposals with the latter. It is argued that geometrical/mechanical conceptions of causation cannot replace difference-making conceptions in characterizing the behavior of mechanisms, but that some of the intuitions behind the geometrical/mechanical approach can be captured by thinking in terms of spatio-temporally organized difference-making information.

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Correspondence to James Woodward.

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Woodward, J. Mechanisms revisited. Synthese 183, 409–427 (2011). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11229-011-9870-3

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Keywords

  • Mechanism
  • Interventionist theory of causation
  • Difference-making
  • Perception of causation