David Bourget (Western Ontario)
David Chalmers (ANU, NYU)
Rafael De Clercq
Ezio Di Nucci
Jack Alan Reynolds
Learn more about PhilPapers
Synthese 183 (3):389-408 (2011)
Resurgent interest in both mechanistic and counterfactual theories of explanation has led to a fair amount of discussion regarding the relative merits of these two approaches. James Woodward is currently the pre-eminent counterfactual theorist, and he criticizes the mechanists on the following grounds: Unless mechanists about explanation invoke counterfactuals, they cannot make sense of claims about causal interactions between mechanism parts or of causal explanations put forward absent knowledge of productive mechanisms. He claims that these shortfalls can be offset if mechanists will just borrow key tenets of his counterfactual theory of causal claims. What mechanists must bear in mind, however, is that by pursuing this course they risk both the assimilation of the mechanistic theories of explanation into Woodward’s own favored counterfactual theory, and they risk the marginalization of mechanistic explanations to a proper subset of all explanations. An outcome more favorable to mechanists might be had by pursuing an actualist-mechanist theory of the contents of causal claims. While it may not seem obvious at first blush that such an approach is workable, even in principle, recent empirical research into causal perception, causal belief, and mechanical reasoning provides some grounds for optimism.
|Keywords||Explanation Mechanisms Counterfactuals Causation Causal perception Mechanical reasoning Simulation|
|Categories||categorize this paper)|
Setup an account with your affiliations in order to access resources via your University's proxy server
Configure custom proxy (use this if your affiliation does not provide a proxy)
|Through your library|
References found in this work BETA
James Woodward (2003). Making Things Happen: A Theory of Causal Explanation. Oxford University Press.
Carl F. Craver (2007). Explaining the Brain: Mechanisms and the Mosaic Unity of Neuroscience. Oxford University Press, Clarendon Press.
William Bechtel & Robert C. Richardson (1993). Discovering Complexity Decomposition and Localization as Strategies in Scientific Research. Princeton.
Peter K. Machamer, Lindley Darden & Carl F. Craver (2000). Thinking About Mechanisms. Philosophy of Science 67 (1):1-25.
Stuart Glennan (2002). Rethinking Mechanistic Explanation. Proceedings of the Philosophy of Science Association 2002 (3):S342-353.
Citations of this work BETA
Arnon Levy (2013). Three Kinds of New Mechanism. Biology and Philosophy 28 (1):99-114.
Felipe Romero (2015). Why There Isn’T Inter-Level Causation in Mechanisms. Synthese 192 (11):3731-3755.
Similar books and articles
Kari L. Theurer (2013). Compositional Explanatory Relations and Mechanistic Reduction. Minds and Machines 23 (3):287-307.
Peter Fazekas & Gergely Kertész (2011). Causation at Different Levels: Tracking the Commitments of Mechanistic Explanations. Biology and Philosophy 26 (3):365-383.
Cory D. Wright & William P. Bechtel (2007). Mechanisms and Psychological Explanation. In Paul Thagard (ed.), Philosophy of Psychology and Cognitive Science. Elsevier
Stathis Psillos (2004). A Glimpse of the Secret Connexion: Harmonizing Mechanisms with Counterfactuals. Perspectives on Science 12 (3):288-319.
Tania Lombrozo (2010). Causal-Explanatory Pluralism: How Intentions, Functions, and Mechanisms Influence Causal Ascriptions. Cognitive Psychology 61 (4):303-332.
D. Benjamin Barros (2013). Negative Causation in Causal and Mechanistic Explanation. Synthese 190 (3):449-469.
L. R. Franklin-Hall (forthcoming). New Mechanistic Explanation and the Need for Explanatory Constraints. In Ken Aizawa & Carl Gillett (eds.), Scientific Composition and Metaphysical Ground. Palgrave
Johannes Persson (2012). Mechanistic Explanation in Social Contexts: Elster and the Problem of Local Scientific Growth. Social Epistemology 26 (1):105-114.
James Woodward (2011). Psychological Studies of Causal and Counterfactual Reasoning. In Christoph Hoerl, Teresa McCormack & Sarah R. Beck (eds.), Understanding Counterfactuals, Understanding Causation. Oxford University Press 16.
Cory D. Wright (2012). Mechanistic Explanation Without the Ontic Conception. European Journal of Philosophy of Science 2 (3):375-394.
James Woodward (2004). Counterfactuals and Causal Explanation. International Studies in the Philosophy of Science 18 (1):41 – 72.
Carlos Zednik (2011). The Nature of Dynamical Explanation. Philosophy of Science 78 (2):238-263.
George Botterill (2010). Two Kinds of Causal Explanation. Theoria 76 (4):287-313.
Added to index2011-11-03
Total downloads46 ( #87,565 of 1,790,567 )
Recent downloads (6 months)6 ( #142,533 of 1,790,567 )
How can I increase my downloads?