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The Reality of Causes in a World of Instrumental Laws

Nancy Cartwright
PSA: Proceedings of the Biennial Meeting of the Philosophy of Science Association
Vol. 1980, Volume Two: Symposia and Invited Papers (1980), pp. 38-48
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/192585
Page Count: 11
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The Reality of Causes in a World of Instrumental Laws
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Abstract

Philosophers of science nowadays are inclined to believe in physical laws, but generally, like Hume and Russell, to reject causes. This paper urges the reverse. Explanatory practice in physics argues that we must take literally the causal stories that our theories provide, but the fundamental laws and equations that are essential to modern science are merely instrumental.

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