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Department of Philosophy

Staff

Publication details for Prof Nancy Cartwright

Cartwright, N. & Efstathiou, S. (2011). Hunting Causes and Using Them: Is There No Bridge from Here to There? International Studies in the Philosophy of Science 25(3): 223-241.

Author(s) from Durham

Abstract

Causation is in trouble—at least as it is pictured in current theories in philosophy and in economics as well, where causation is also once again in fashion. In both disciplines the accounts of causality on offer are either modelled too closely on one or another favoured method for hunting causes or on assumptions about the uses to which causal knowledge can be put—generally for predicting the results of our efforts to change the world. The first kind of account supplies no reason to think that causal knowledge, as it is pictured, is of any use; the second supplies no reason to think our best methods will be reliable for establishing causal knowledge. So, if these accounts are all there is to be had, how do we get from method to use? Of what use is knowledge of causal laws that we work so hard to obtain?