Stuart Glennan

in The Oxford Handbook of Causation

Published in print November 2009 | ISBN: 9780199279739
Published online January 2010 | e-ISBN: 9780191577246 | DOI:

Series: Oxford Handbooks in Philosophy


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This article explores three issues surrounding the adequacy of the mechanical approach to causation. First, it considers whether the appeal to laws or invariant generalizations in characterizing interactions between parts of mechanisms either makes the mechanical theory circular or reduces it to a regularity, counterfactual, or manipulability theory. Second, the article discusses Machamer, Darden, and Craver's argument that the proper understanding of the causal productivity of mechanisms requires the recognition of the novel metaphysical category of activities. Third, it discusses the relationship between mechanical theories and process theories.

Keywords: causation; mechanical approach; manipulability theory; regularity theory; causal productivity; process theories

Article.  4901 words. 

Subjects: Metaphysics ; Philosophy of Science

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