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The Oxford Handbook of Causation

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Mechanism is undoubtedly a causal concept, in the sense that ordinary definitions and philosophical analyses explicate the concept in terms of other causal concepts such as production and interaction. Given this fact, many philosophers have supposed that analyses of the concept of mechanism, while they might appeal to philosophical theories about the nature of causation, could do little to inform such theories. On the other hand, methods of causal inference and explanation appeal to mechanisms. Discovering a mechanism is the gold standard for establishing and explaining causal connections. This fact suggests that it might be possible to provide an analysis of causation that appeals to mechanisms.


This is a post-print version of a book chapter published in: The Oxford Handbook of Causation, edited by Helen Beebee, Christopher Hitchcock and Peter Menzies. Oxford: Oxford University Press. Archived with permission from Oxford University Press, all rights reserved.


Final definitive version available in The Oxford Handbook of Causation by Oxford University Press.