more from S.Mumford/R.Lill Anjum

Single Idea 14568

[catalogued under 14. Science / D. Explanation / 2. Types of Explanation / i. Explanations by mechanism]

Full Idea

Knowing the structure that something has does not in itself causally explain that thing's behaviour unless we also know what sorts of behaviour a thing of that structure can cause.

Gist of Idea

A structure won't give a causal explanation unless we know the powers of the structure


S.Mumford/R.Lill Anjum (Getting Causes from Powers [2011], 6.2)

Book Reference

Anjum,R.J./Mumford,S.: 'Getting Causes from Powers' [OUP 2011], p.133

A Reaction

I agree with this. If you focus on the lowest possible levels of causal explanation, I can see only powers. Whatever you come up with, it had better be something active. Geometry never started any bonfires.