Mechanisms and Constitutive Relevance

Synthese 183 (3):375-388 (2011)
This paper will examine the nature of mechanisms and the distinction between the relevant and irrelevant parts involved in a mechanism’s operation. I first consider Craver’s account of this distinction in his book on the nature of mechanisms, and explain some problems. I then offer a novel account of the distinction that appeals to some resources from Mackie’s theory of causation. I end by explaining how this account enables us to better understand what mechanisms are and their various features.
Keywords Mechanisms  Constitutive relevance  Capacities  Craver
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DOI 10.1007/s11229-011-9882-z
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