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Horizontal Surgicality and Mechanistic Constitution

Type of publication Peer-reviewed
Publikationsform Original article (peer-reviewed)
Author Baumgartner Michael, Casini Lorenzo, Krickel Beate,
Project Mechanistic Constitution in the Special Sciences
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Original article (peer-reviewed)

Journal Erkenntnis
Volume (Issue) 85(2)
Page(s) 417 - 430
Title of proceedings Erkenntnis
DOI 10.1007/s10670-018-0033-5

Open Access

Type of Open Access Repository (Green Open Access)


While ideal (surgical) interventions are acknowledged by many as valuable tools for the analysis of causation, recent discussions have shown that, since there are no ideal interventions on upper-level phenomena that non-reductively supervene on their underlying mechanisms, interventions cannot—contrary to a popular opinion—ground an informative analysis of constitution. This has led some to abandon the project of analyzing constitution in interventionist terms. By contrast, this paper defines the notion of a horizontally surgical intervention, and argues that, when combined with some innocuous metaphysical principles about the relation between upper and lower levels of mechanisms, that notion delivers a sufficient condition for constitution. This, in turn, strengthens the case for an interventionist analysis of constitution.