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The Best Swimmers Drown – Mechanisms and Epistemic Risks: A constructive critique of Elster

Persson, Johannes LU (2007) In Hommage à Wlodek; 60 Philosophical papers dedicated to Wlodek Rabinowicz
Abstract
According to Jon Elster, mechanisms are frequently occurring and easily recognizable causal patterns that are triggered under generally unknown conditions or with indeterminate consequences. In the absence of laws, moreover, mechanisms provide explanations. In this paper I argue that Elster’s view has difficulties with progressing knowledge. Normally, filling in the causal picture without revising it should not threaten one’s explanation. But this seems to be Elster’s case. The critique is constructive in the sense that it is built up from a discussion of a mechanism that might explain ‘unwarranted’ risk taking in connection with swimming—a mechanism that is mirrored in the proverb: The best swimmers drown.
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author
organization
publishing date
type
Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceeding
publication status
published
subject
keywords
mechanism, causation, risk, explanation
in
Hommage à Wlodek; 60 Philosophical papers dedicated to Wlodek Rabinowicz
editor
Rønnow-Rasmussen, Toni; Petersson, Björn; Josefsson, Jonas and Egonsson, Dan
publisher
Department of Philosophy, Lund University
language
English
LU publication?
yes
id
7c6ea9e9-6fb4-4566-b7db-ed65f993884f (old id 1608157)
alternative location
http://www.fil.lu.se/hommageawlodek/
date added to LUP
2010-05-27 13:52:27
date last changed
2016-10-11 08:19:55
@misc{7c6ea9e9-6fb4-4566-b7db-ed65f993884f,
  abstract     = {According to Jon Elster, mechanisms are frequently occurring and easily recognizable causal patterns that are triggered under generally unknown conditions or with indeterminate consequences. In the absence of laws, moreover, mechanisms provide explanations. In this paper I argue that Elster’s view has difficulties with progressing knowledge. Normally, filling in the causal picture without revising it should not threaten one’s explanation. But this seems to be Elster’s case. The critique is constructive in the sense that it is built up from a discussion of a mechanism that might explain ‘unwarranted’ risk taking in connection with swimming—a mechanism that is mirrored in the proverb: The best swimmers drown.},
  author       = {Persson, Johannes},
  editor       = {Rønnow-Rasmussen, Toni and Petersson, Björn and Josefsson, Jonas and Egonsson, Dan},
  keyword      = {mechanism,causation,risk,explanation},
  language     = {eng},
  publisher    = {ARRAY(0xba2d150)},
  series       = {Hommage à Wlodek; 60 Philosophical papers dedicated to Wlodek Rabinowicz},
  title        = {The Best Swimmers Drown – Mechanisms and Epistemic Risks: A constructive critique of Elster},
  year         = {2007},
}