The Emperor's New Mechanisms

In Ken Aizawa & Carl Gillett (eds.), Scientific Composition and Metaphysical Ground. Palgrave (forthcoming)
This paper argues that the increasingly dominant new mechanistic approach to scientific explanation, as developed to date, does not shed new light on explanatory practice. First, I systematize the explanatory account, one according to which explanations are mechanistic models that satisfy three desiderata: 1) they must represent causal relations, 2) describe the proper parts, and 3) depict the system at the right ‘level.’ Then I argue that even the most promising attempts to flesh out these constraints have fallen far short. Finally, I offer a diagnosis of the mechanistic project, locating a common source of both its virtues and shortcomings.
Keywords scientific explanation  mechanisms  causation
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