Functional Laws and Concomitant Variation

J. L. Mackie

in The Cement of the Universe

Published in print September 1980 | ISBN: 9780198246428
Published online November 2003 | e-ISBN: 9780191597954 | DOI:

Series: Clarendon Library of Logic and Philosophy

 Functional Laws and Concomitant Variation

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In this chapter, Mackie argues against Russell's claim that the concept of causation is redundant for scientific explanation and that it should be replaced with the notion of functions. Mackie draws the distinction between the ‘functional causation’ that Russell recommends and the more traditional ‘neolithic causation’ that Mackie has been concerned with in the preceding chapters. He argues that functional causation should be properly considered as merely a limiting case of neolithic causation. Mackie adopts another of Mill's methods, which is entitled the Method of Concomitant Variation, and claims that by means of this method, the concept of a functional notion can be shown to be a refinement of the neolithic concept of cause rather than an entirely different concept.

Keywords: concomitant variation; function; Mill; Russell

Chapter.  6804 words. 

Subjects: Metaphysics

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