Making Things Happen: A Theory of Causal Explanation

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Oxford University Press, Oct 27, 2005 - Science - 432 pages
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In Making Things Happen, James Woodward develops a new and ambitious comprehensive theory of causation and explanation that draws on literature from a variety of disciplines and which applies to a wide variety of claims in science and everyday life. His theory is a manipulationist account, proposing that causal and explanatory relationships are relationships that are potentially exploitable for purposes of manipulation and control. This account has its roots in the commonsense idea that causes are means for bringing about effects; but it also draws on a long tradition of work in experimental design, econometrics, and statistics.
Woodward shows how these ideas may be generalized to other areas of science from the social scientific and biomedical contexts for which they were originally designed. He also provides philosophical foundations for the manipulationist approach, drawing out its implications, comparing it with alternative approaches, and defending it from common criticisms. In doing so, he shows how the manipulationist account both illuminates important features of successful causal explanation in the natural and social sciences, and avoids the counterexamples and difficulties that infect alternative approaches, from the deductive-nomological model onwards.
Making Things Happen will interest philosophers working in the philosophy of science, the philosophy of social science, and metaphysics, and as well as anyone interested in causation, explanation, and scientific methodology.
  

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Contents

Introduction and Preview
3
Causation and Manipulation
25
Interventions Agency and Counterfactuals
94
Causal Explanation Background and Criticism
152
A Counterfactual Theory of Causal Explanation
187
Invariance
239
Causal Interpretation in Structural Models
315
The Causal Mechanical and Unificationist Models of Explanation
350
Afterword
374
Notes
376
References
398
Index
407
Copyright

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About the author (2005)


James Woodward is the author of a number of articles in the philosophy of science. He has taught at the California Institute of Technology since 1983 where he is presently the J.O. and Juliette Koepfli Professor of Humanities.

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