A Pragmatist Perspective on Causation, Laws and Explanation

Richard Healey

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


I offer a pragmatist understanding of causation, laws and explanation that traces the features of these notions to their functions in our practical as well as theoretical projects. Laws derive their importance from their epistemic and methodological functions, while the primary role of causal concepts is in guiding action. Contemporary interventionist accounts of causation and causal modeling appeal to and clarify this practical role while downplaying the causal significance of laws. They also explain how causation in one science or at one level of complexity may be either related to or independent of causation in other sciences or at other levels. In this way they can demystify the notion of top-down causation by showing how, and when, it is possible.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationSynthese Library
PublisherSpringer Science and Business Media B.V.
Number of pages16
StatePublished - 2021

Publication series

NameSynthese Library
ISSN (Print)0166-6991
ISSN (Electronic)2542-8292

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • History and Philosophy of Science
  • History
  • Language and Linguistics
  • Logic


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