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Mechanism-as-activity and the threat of polygenic effects

Persson, Johannes LU (2007) EPSA 07 In EPSA07: 1st Conference of the European Philosophy of Science Association (Madrid, 15-17 November, 2007).
Abstract
Polygenic effects have more than one cause. They testify to the fact that several causal contributors are sometimes simultaneously involved in causation. The importance of polygenic causation was noticed early on by Mill (1893). It has since been shown to be a problem for causal-law approaches to causation and accounts of causation cast in terms of capacities. However, polygenic causation needs to be examined more thoroughly in the emerging literature on causal mechanisms. In this paper I examine whether an influential theory of mechanisms proposed by Peter Machamer, Lindley Darden and Carl Craver can accommodate polygenic effects and other forms of causal interaction. This theory is problematic, I will argue, because it ascribes a central... (More)
Polygenic effects have more than one cause. They testify to the fact that several causal contributors are sometimes simultaneously involved in causation. The importance of polygenic causation was noticed early on by Mill (1893). It has since been shown to be a problem for causal-law approaches to causation and accounts of causation cast in terms of capacities. However, polygenic causation needs to be examined more thoroughly in the emerging literature on causal mechanisms. In this paper I examine whether an influential theory of mechanisms proposed by Peter Machamer, Lindley Darden and Carl Craver can accommodate polygenic effects and other forms of causal interaction. This theory is problematic, I will argue, because it ascribes a central role to activities. In it, activities are needed not only to constitute mechanisms but also to perform the causal role of mechanisms. Any such mechanism-as-activity will be incompatible with causal situations where either no or merely another kind of activity occurs. But, as I will try to illustrate in this paper, both kinds of situation may be frequent. If I am right, the view that Machamer and colleagues suggest leads to an impoverished conception of mechanism. (Less)
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author
organization
publishing date
type
Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceeding
publication status
published
subject
keywords
activities, Machamer, causation, mechanism, explanation
in
EPSA07: 1st Conference of the European Philosophy of Science Association (Madrid, 15-17 November, 2007).
pages
13 pages
publisher
Phil Sci Archive
conference name
EPSA 07
language
English
LU publication?
yes
id
cf2d8fa5-1e28-4aa3-a6b2-319f53e0401d (old id 1288108)
alternative location
http://philsci-archive.pitt.edu/archive/00003679/
date added to LUP
2009-01-30 09:45:01
date last changed
2016-04-16 08:59:45
@inproceedings{cf2d8fa5-1e28-4aa3-a6b2-319f53e0401d,
  abstract     = {Polygenic effects have more than one cause. They testify to the fact that several causal contributors are sometimes simultaneously involved in causation. The importance of polygenic causation was noticed early on by Mill (1893). It has since been shown to be a problem for causal-law approaches to causation and accounts of causation cast in terms of capacities. However, polygenic causation needs to be examined more thoroughly in the emerging literature on causal mechanisms. In this paper I examine whether an influential theory of mechanisms proposed by Peter Machamer, Lindley Darden and Carl Craver can accommodate polygenic effects and other forms of causal interaction. This theory is problematic, I will argue, because it ascribes a central role to activities. In it, activities are needed not only to constitute mechanisms but also to perform the causal role of mechanisms. Any such mechanism-as-activity will be incompatible with causal situations where either no or merely another kind of activity occurs. But, as I will try to illustrate in this paper, both kinds of situation may be frequent. If I am right, the view that Machamer and colleagues suggest leads to an impoverished conception of mechanism.},
  author       = {Persson, Johannes},
  booktitle    = {EPSA07: 1st Conference of the European Philosophy of Science Association (Madrid, 15-17 November, 2007).},
  keyword      = {activities,Machamer,causation,mechanism,explanation},
  language     = {eng},
  pages        = {13},
  publisher    = {Phil Sci Archive},
  title        = {Mechanism-as-activity and the threat of polygenic effects},
  year         = {2007},
}