David Bourget (Western Ontario)
David Chalmers (ANU, NYU)
Rafael De Clercq
Ezio Di Nucci
Jack Alan Reynolds
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Philosophical Psychology 26 (1):139-152 (2013)
In this paper we argue that in recent literature on mechanistic explanations, authors tend to conflate two distinct features that mechanistic models can have or fail to have: plausibility and richness. By plausibility, we mean the probability that a model is correct in the assertions it makes regarding the parts and operations of the mechanism, i.e., that the model is correct as a description of the actual mechanism. By richness, we mean the amount of detail the model gives about the actual mechanism. First, we argue that there is at least a conceptual reason to keep these two features distinct, since they can vary independently from each other: models can be highly plausible while providing almost no details, while they can also be highly detailed but plainly wrong. Next, focusing on Craver's continuum of ?how-possibly,? to ?how-plausibly,? to ?how-actually? models, we argue that the conflation of plausibility and richness is harmful to the discussion because it leads to the view that both are necessary for a model to have explanatory power, while in fact, richness is only so with respect to a mechanism's activities, not its entities. This point is illustrated with two examples of functional models
|Keywords||Explanation mechanism mechanistic explanation plausibility models richness|
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References found in this work BETA
Michael Strevens (2008). Depth: An Account of Scientific Explanation. Harvard University Press.
Carl F. Craver (2007). Explaining the Brain: Mechanisms and the Mosaic Unity of Neuroscience. Oxford University Press, Clarendon Press.
Peter K. Machamer, Lindley Darden & Carl F. Craver (2000). Thinking About Mechanisms. Philosophy of Science 67 (1):1-25.
William Bechtel (2005). Explanation: A Mechanist Alternative. Studies in History and Philosophy of Biol and Biomed Sci 36 (2):421--441.
Stuart Glennan (2002). Rethinking Mechanistic Explanation. Proceedings of the Philosophy of Science Association 2002 (3):S342-353.
Citations of this work BETA
Dingmar van Eck & Erik Weber (2014). Function Ascription and Explanation: Elaborating an Explanatory Utility Desideratum for Ascriptions of Technical Functions. Erkenntnis 79 (6):1367-1389.
Dingmar van Eck (2015). Validating Function-Based Design Methods: An Explanationist Perspective. Philosophy and Technology 28 (4):511-531.
Dingmar van Eck (2015). Mechanistic Explanation in Engineering Science. European Journal for Philosophy of Science 5 (3):349-375.
Raoul Gervais & Erik Weber (2013). Inferential Explanations in Biology. Studies in History and Philosophy of Biological and Biomedical Sciences 44 (3):356-364.
Raoul Gervais & Erik Weber (2013). Inferential Explanations in Biology. Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part C: Studies in History and Philosophy of Biological and Biomedical Sciences 44 (3):356-364.
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