Mechanisms and explanatory realization relations

Synthese 177 (2):193 - 212 (2010)
My topic is the confluence of two recently active philosophical research programs. One research program concerns the metaphysics of realization. The other research program concerns scientific explanation in terms of mechanisms. In this paper I introduce a distinction between descriptive and explanatory approaches to realization. I then use this distinction to argue that a well-known account of realization, due to Carl Gillett, is incompatible with a well-known account of mechanistic explanation, due to Peter Machamer, Lindley Darden, and Carl Craver (MDC, Philos Sci 57: 1-25, 2000). This is surprising, not least of which because Gillett has cited MDC's work as evidence that his account of realization is the right way to think about realization in the sciences
Keywords Realization  Mechanism  Explanation  Dependence  Gillet
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