Ecological explanation between manipulation and mechanism description

Philosophy of Science 76 (5):821-837 (2009)
Abstract
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: paslarvi@notes.udayton.edu.
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DOI 10.1086/605812
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References found in this work BETA
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.
Jim Woodward (2002). What is a Mechanism? A Counterfactual Account. Proceedings of the Philosophy of Science Association 2002 (3):S366-S377.
Stuart Glennan (2005). Modeling Mechanisms. Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part C 36 (2):443-464.
Robert A. Skipper & Roberta L. Millstein (2005). Thinking About Evolutionary Mechanisms: Natural Selection. Studies in History and Philosophy of Biological and Biomedical Sciences 36 (2):327-347.

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Citations of this work BETA
Arnon Levy (2013). Three Kinds of New Mechanism. Biology and Philosophy 28 (1):99-114.
Viorel Pâslaru (2014). The Mechanistic Approach of The Theory of Island Biogeography and its Current Relevance. Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part C: Studies in History and Philosophy of Biological and Biomedical Sciences 45 (1):22-33.

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