Darwinism and mechanism: metaphor in science

There are two main senses of ‘mechanism’, both deriving from the metaphor of nature as a machine. One sense refers to contrivance or design, as in ‘the plant’s mechanism of attracting butterflies’. The other sense refers to cause or law process, as in ‘the mechanism of heredity’. In his work on evolution, Charles Darwin showed that organisms are produced by a mechanism in the second sense, although he never used this language. He also discussed contrivance, where he did use the language of mechanism. This discussion relates metaphor in general and Darwin’s use of the machine metaphor in particular to the problem of the nature of science, concluding that one use of the metaphor reinforces the objective nature of science and the other use reinforces the subjective nature of science
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DOI 10.1016/j.shpsc.2005.03.004
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References found in this work BETA
William Paley (2007). Natural Theology. In Elizabeth Schmidt Radcliffe, Richard McCarty, Fritz Allhoff & Anand Vaidya (eds.), Late Modern Philosophy: Essential Readings with Commentary. Blackwell Pub. Ltd.
Ernan McMullin (1982). Values in Science. PSA: Proceedings of the Biennial Meeting of the Philosophy of Science Association 1982 (4):3 - 28.
Robert J. Richards (2004). Michael Ruse's Design for Living. Journal of the History of Biology 37 (1):25 - 38.

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Daniel J. Nicholson (2012). The Concept of Mechanism in Biology. Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part C 43 (1):152-163.

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Michael Ruse (2011). Is Darwinism Past its “Sell-by” Date? The Origin of Species at 150. Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part C 42 (1):5-11.

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