Explanatory Autonomy and Coleman's Boat

Daniel Eastman Little


The paper addresses the question of whether an actor-centered social ontology can admit of relatively autonomous social causal explanations.  It endorses the requirement that social structures and causes require "microfoundations."  It argues that the examples of other special sciences demonstrate the relevance of the idea of "relative explanatory autonomy" in the case of social causal reasoning. These considerations provide a basis for affirming the legitimacy of causal statements about meso-level causal relations.


causal mechanisms, causal powers, microfoundations, social structure, methodological localism

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DOI: https://doi.org/10.1387/theoria.3016