David Bourget (Western Ontario)
David Chalmers (ANU, NYU)
Rafael De Clercq
Jack Alan Reynolds
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Studies in History and Philosophy of Biol and Biomed Sci 36 (2):421--441 (2005)
Explanations in the life sciences frequently involve presenting a model of the mechanism taken to be responsible for a given phenomenon. Such explanations depart in numerous ways from nomological explanations commonly presented in philosophy of science. This paper focuses on three sorts of differences. First, scientists who develop mechanistic explanations are not limited to linguistic representations and logical inference; they frequently employ dia- grams to characterize mechanisms and simulations to reason about them. Thus, the epistemic resources for presenting mechanistic explanations are considerably richer than those suggested by a nomological framework. Second, the fact that mechanisms involve organized systems of component parts and operations provides direction to both the discovery and testing of mech- anistic explanations. Finally, models of mechanisms are developed for specific exemplars and are not represented in terms of universally quantified statements. Generalization involves investigating both the similarity of new exemplars to those already studied and the variations between them. Ó 2005 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
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Citations of this work BETA
Arnon Levy (2013). Three Kinds of New Mechanism. Biology and Philosophy 28 (1):99-114.
Anthony Chemero & Michael Silberstein (2008). After the Philosophy of Mind: Replacing Scholasticism with Science. Philosophy of Science 75 (1):1-27.
Daniel A. Weiskopf (2011). Models and Mechanisms in Psychological Explanation. Synthese 183 (3):313-338.
Jonathan Cohen & Craig Callender (2009). A Better Best System Account of Lawhood. Philosophical Studies 145 (1):1 - 34.
Holly Andersen (2012). The Case for Regularity in Mechanistic Causal Explanation. Synthese 189 (3):415-432.
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