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Mechanistic evidence: Disambiguating the Russo-Williamson thesis

Illari, PM; (2011) Mechanistic evidence: Disambiguating the Russo-Williamson thesis. International Studies in the Philosophy of Science , 25 (2) 139 - 157. 10.1080/02698595.2011.574856. Green open access

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Russo and Williamson claim that establishing causal claims requires mechanistic and difference-making evidence. In this article, I will argue that Russo and Williamson's formulation of their thesis is multiply ambiguous. I will make three distinctions: mechanistic evidence as type vs object of evidence; what mechanism or mechanisms we want evidence of; and how much evidence of a mechanism we require. I will feed these more precise meanings back into the Russo-Williamson thesis and argue that it is both true and false: two weaker versions of the thesis are worth supporting, while the stronger versions are not. Further, my distinctions are of wider concern because they allow us to make more precise claims about what kinds of evidence are required in particular cases. © 2011 Open Society Foundation.

Type: Article
Title: Mechanistic evidence: Disambiguating the Russo-Williamson thesis
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
DOI: 10.1080/02698595.2011.574856
Publisher version: http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/02698595.2011.574856
Language: English
Additional information: This is an Accepted Manuscript of an article published by Taylor & Francis in International Studies in the Philosophy of Science on 27 July 2011, available online: http://wwww.tandfonline.com/10.1080/02698595.2011.574856.
UCL classification: UCL > School of BEAMS > Faculty of Maths and Physical Sciences > Science and Technology Studies
URI: http://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/1370009
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