Ecological explanation between manipulation and mechanism description

Philosophy of Science 76 (5):821-837 (2009)
James Woodward offers a conception of explanation and mechanism in terms of interventionist counterfactuals. Based on a case from ecology, I show that ecologists’ approach to that case satisfies Woodward’s conditions for explanation and mechanism, but his conception does not fully capture what ecologists view as explanatory. The new mechanistic philosophy likewise aims to describe central aspects of mechanisms, but I show that it is not sufficient to account for ecological mechanisms. I argue that in ecology explanation involves identification of invariant and insensitive causal relationships and descriptions of the mechanistic characteristics that make these relations possible. †To contact the author, please write to: Department of Philosophy, University of Dayton, 300 College Park, Dayton, OH 45469‐1546; e‐mail:
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Arnon Levy (2013). Three Kinds of New Mechanism. Biology and Philosophy 28 (1):99-114.
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