During the International Association for Critical Realism (IACR) Annual Conference held in Cardiff, UK from July 19-23rd, 2016, Dave Elder-Vass, Philip Gorski and Timothy Rutzou participated in a panel “Causal Powers in the Social Sciences”. This panel stemmed from the conference we hosted earlier this year on Causal Powers and Social Science in New Haven, Connecticut. Click here to read about the highlights of the conference from our Project Manager, Laura Donnelly.

In Part 2 of the panel, Philip Gorski reflects on the recent turn to the concept of mechanisms and whether this is in fact the right language to understand the nature of causality in the social world. What ontological presuppositions and methodological implications does the language of mechanisms embody? Is it just another way of saving the ghost of positivism in the social sciences? And could causal powers be a better and more appropriate language to use?