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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References found in this work BETA
Jim Bogen (2004). Analysing Causality: The Opposite of Counterfactual is Factual. International Studies in the Philosophy of Science 18 (1):3 – 26.
Jim Bogen (2008). Causally Productive Activities. Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part A 39 (1):112-123.
Carl F. Craver (2007). Explaining the Brain: Mechanisms and the Mosaic Unity of Neuroscience. Oxford University Press, Clarendon Press ;.
Carl F. Craver (2006). When Mechanistic Models Explain. Synthese 153 (3):355-376.
Lindley Darden (2006). Reasoning in Biological Discoveries: Essays on Mechanisms, Interfield Relations, and Anomaly Resolution. Cambridge University Press.
Citations of this work BETA
Daniel J. Nicholson (2012). The Concept of Mechanism in Biology. Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part C 43 (1):152-163.
Phyllis Illari & Jon Williamson (2012). What is a Mechanism? Thinking About Mechanisms Across the Sciences. European Journal for Philosophy of Science 2 (1):119-135.
Alexander Mebius (2014). A Weakened Mechanism is Still a Mechanism: On the Causal Role of Absences in Mechanistic Explanation. Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part C: Studies in History and Philosophy of Biological and Biomedical Sciences 45:43-48.
Phyllis Illari & Jon Williamson (2013). In Defence of Activities. Journal for General Philosophy of Science 44 (1):69-83.
Giovanni Boniolo (2013). On Molecular Mechanisms and Contexts of Physical Explanation. Biological Theory 7 (3):256-265.
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James Woodward (2011). Mechanisms Revisited. Synthese 183 (3):409-427.
Stuart Glennan (2010). Ephemeral Mechanisms and Historical Explanation. Erkenntnis 72 (2):251 - 266.
James Tabery (2004). Synthesizing Activities and Interactions in the Concept of a Mechanism. Philosophy of Science 71 (1):1-15.
Peter Machamer (2004). Activities and Causation: The Metaphysics and Epistemology of Mechanisms. International Studies in the Philosophy of Science 18 (1):27 – 39.
James G. Tabery (2004). Synthesizing Activities and Interactions in the Concept of a Mechanism. Philosophy of Science 71 (1):1-15.
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