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Nature's Capacities and Their Measurement - Oxford Scholarship Online
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Nature's Capacities and Their Measurement

Nancy Cartwright


This book on the philosophy of science argues for an empiricism, opposed to the tradition of David Hume, in which singular rather than general causal claims are primary; causal laws express facts about singular causes whereas the general causal claims of science are ascriptions of capacities or causal powers, capacities to make things happen. Taking science as measurement, Cartwright argues that capacities are necessary for science and that these can be measured, provided suitable conditions are met. There are case studies from both econometrics and quantum mechanics.

Keywords: capacities, Nancy Cartwright, causal powers, cause, econometrics, empiricism, measurement, philosophy of science, quantum mechanics

Bibliographic Information

Print publication date: 1994 Print ISBN-13: 9780198235071
Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: November 2003 DOI:10.1093/0198235070.001.0001


Affiliations are at time of print publication.

Nancy Cartwright, author
London School of Economics and Political Science
Author Webpage