Philosophy & Technology

, Volume 24, Issue 2, pp 115–136 | Cite as

Imaging Technology and the Philosophy of Causality

  • George DarbyEmail author
  • Jon Williamson
Research Article


Russo and Williamson (Int Stud Philos Sci 21(2):157–170, 2007) put forward the thesis that, at least in the health sciences, to establish the claim that C is a cause of E, one normally needs evidence of an underlying mechanism linking C and E as well as evidence that C makes a difference to E. This epistemological thesis poses a problem for most current analyses of causality which, in virtue of analysing causality in terms of just one of mechanisms or difference making, cannot account for the need for the other kind of evidence. Weber (Int Stud Philos Sci 23(2):277–295, 2009) has suggested to the contrary that Giere’s probabilistic analysis of causality survives this criticism. In this paper, we look in detail at the case of medical imaging technology, which, we argue, supports the thesis of Russo and Williamson, and we respond to Weber’s suggestion, arguing that Giere’s account does not survive the criticism.


Causality Causation Difference making Mechanism Medical imaging 



We are very grateful to Sarah Heathfield, Phyllis McKay Illari, Federica Russo, Erik Weber and two anonymous referees for helpful discussion and comments, to the Leverhulme Trust for supporting George Darby’s research and to the British Academy for supporting Jon Williamson’s research.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Philosophy, SECLUniversity of KentCanterburyUK

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