David Bourget (Western Ontario)
David Chalmers (ANU, NYU)
Rafael De Clercq
Jack Alan Reynolds
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Erkenntnis 71 (2):233 - 251 (2009)
In this paper, I critique two conceptions of mechanisms, namely those put forth by Stuart Glennan (Erkenntnis 44:49–71, 1996; Philosophy of Science 69:S342–S353, 2002) and Machamer et al. (Philosophy of Science 67:1–25, 2000). Glennan’s conception, I argue, cannot account for mechanisms involving negative causation because of its interactionist posture. MDC’s view encounters the same problem due to its reificatory conception of activities—this conception, I argue, entails an onerous commitment to ontological dualism. In the place of Glennan and MDC, I propose a “modified conception” of mechanisms, which (a) obviates the problem of negative causation by reinterpreting MDC’s activities according to a “descriptivist” account, and (b) avoids MDC’s problem by postulating a monistic ontology of entities. Thus, by solving these problems, my modified conception offers a cogent, more adequate alternative to Glennan’s and MDC’s conceptions of mechanisms.
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