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Nature's Capacities and Their Measurement$
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Nancy Cartwright

Print publication date: 1994

Print ISBN-13: 9780198235071

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: November 2003

DOI: 10.1093/0198235070.001.0001

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Capacities

Capacities

Chapter:
(p.141) 4 Capacities
Source:
Nature's Capacities and Their Measurement
Author(s):

Nancy Cartwright (Contributor Webpage)

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/0198235070.003.0005

In addition to the notion of causal law, the concept of capacity, modelled on Mill's notion of tendency, is required to make sense of standard methods in econometrics and standard accounts of probabilistic causality. General causal claims are shown to be ascriptions of capacities while causal laws are local causal claims, relative to a test population. Capacities are at a higher level of modality and are not reducible to causal laws, as causal laws are not reducible to laws of association that describe mere regularities; but unlike laws of association, capacities are real.

Keywords:   capacity, causal laws, econometrics, Mill, probabilistic causality, regularities

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