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Making Things Happen: A Theory of Causal Explanation (Oxford Studies in the Philosophy of Science) Paperback – October 27, 2005

ISBN-13: 978-0195189537 ISBN-10: 0195189531 Edition: 0th

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Product Details

  • Series: Oxford Studies in the Philosophy of Science
  • Paperback: 432 pages
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press (October 27, 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0195189531
  • ISBN-13: 978-0195189537
  • Product Dimensions: 9.1 x 1.2 x 6.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #484,990 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews


"Making Things Happen contains an elaborate presentation and defense of Woodward's manipulability theory of causation and causal explanation, a powerful alternative to extant theories in the field...The book contains an enormous wealth of ideas and detailed arguments...an extremely important contribution to the debates about causation and explanation. It will become an indispensable reference for anyone who wants to work on these topics."--Henk W. de Regt, Notre Dame Philosophical Reviews

"Careful, detailed, often eloquent."--Clark Glymour, British Journal for Philosophy of Science

About the Author

James Woodward is the author of a number of articles in the philosophy of science. He has taught at the California Institute of Technology since 1983 where he is presently the J.O. and Juliette Koepfli Professor of Humanities.

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52 of 52 people found the following review helpful By B. W. Kobes on July 25, 2006
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Woodward, a philosopher at Cal Tech, presents a detailed development and defense of an "interventionist" or "manipulability" theory of causation.

Major influences on Woodward include Spirtes, Glymour, and Scheines (1993/2000), who focus on causal inference and discovery from statistical data, and Judea Pearl (2000), who developed the notion of an intervention and showed how to estimate quantitative causal notions given qualitative notions of causal dependence. Woodward, by contrast, focuses on the semantic or interpretive project of understanding the basic qualitative causal notions (p. 38). Of all these writers, Woodward's concerns are most directly continuous with those of traditional philosophy of science.

Chapter 1 is an introduction and preview. Chapter 2 presents the guts of the manipulability theory. Here we get, among other things, a non-technical introduction to the use of acyclic directed graphs to represent causal relations. We also get solutions to a basketful of fascinating puzzle cases.

Chapter 3 expands on the notion of intervention that the theory needs. Since that notion is itself causal, the theory is non-reductive. The manipulability theory is contrasted with the closely related agency theory of causation, and also with David Lewis's counterfactual theory of causation.

Chapter 4 treats causal explanation, and includes a critique of the venerable Deductive-Nomological model of explanation. Chapter 5 develops a counterfactual theory of explanation, in which the complex antecedents of the relevant counterfactuals correspond to possible manipulations. There are also pragmatic or epistemic constraints on causal explanation that are not present in purely causal claims.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By J.Lowe on June 5, 2014
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I'm rating 5 stars because I don't want to hurt this books credibility. It's really a fantastic book with a thorough and convincing theory of manipulation based causation. I first encountered it in an ivy graduate school class, and later rediscovered it while working on a paper of my own. It's proven invaluable.

That said, the e-book formatting is awful. There are no chapter markings in the book. The commas used look like period, which makes reading difficult. There's basically not book metadata at all. It's like someone did a quick: scan -> OCR -> sell process on this. Very disappointed. Would love to see an updated copy that had proper e-book formatting.
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