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Nancy Cartwright- Hunting Causes and Using Them

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Nancy Cartwright on the notion of causation in the Social Sciences
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  This page intentionally left blank   Hunting Causes and Using Them  Hunting Causes And Using Them  argues that causation is not one thing, ascommonlyassumed,butmany.Thereisahugevarietyofcausalrelations,eachwith different characterizing features, different methods for discovery anddifferent uses to which it can be put. In this collection of new and previouslypublishedessays,NancyCartwrightprovidesacriticalsurveyofphilosophicaland economic literature on causality, with a special focus on the currentlyfashionable Bayes-nets and invariance methods – and exposes a huge gap inthat literature. Almost every account treats either exclusively of how to huntcauses or of how to use them. But where is the bridge between? It’s no goodknowing how to warrant a causal claim if we don’t know what we can do withthat claim once we have it.This book is for philosophers, economists and social scientists – or foranyone who wants to understand what causality is and what it is good for. NANCY CARTWRIGHT isProfessorofPhilosophyattheLondonSchoolof Economics and Political Science and at the University of California, SanDiego, a Fellow of the British Academy and a recipient of the MacArthurFoundation Award. She is author of   How the Laws of Physics Lie  (1983),  Nature’sCapacitiesandtheirMeasurement  (1989), OttoNeurath:Philosophy BetweenScienceandPolitics (1995)withJordiCat,LolaFleckandThomasE.Uebel, and  The Dappled World: A Study of the Boundaries of Science  (1999).   Drawing by Rachel Hacking Gee University of Oxford’s Museum of the History of Science:Lord Florey’s team investigated antibiotics in 1939. They succeeded inconcentrating and purifying penicillin. The strength of penicillin preparationswasdeterminedbymeasuringtheextenttowhichitpreventedbacterialgrowth.The penicillin was placed in small cylinders and a culture dish and the sizeof the clear circular inhibited zone gave an indication of strength. Simpleapparatusturnedthismeasurementintoaroutineprocedure.TheOxfordgroupdefined a standard unit of potency and was able to produce and distributesamples elsewhere.A specially designed ceramic vessel was introduced to regularize peni-cillin production. The vessels could be stacked for larger-scale productionand readily transported. The vessels were tipped up and the culture containingthe penicillin collected with a pistol. The extraction of the penicillin from theculture was partly automated with a counter-current apparatus. Some of thework had to be done by hand using glass bottles and separation funnels.Penicillin was obtained in a pure and crystalline form and used interna-tionally.

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Jul 23, 2017
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