David Bourget (Western Ontario)
David Chalmers (ANU, NYU)
Rafael De Clercq
Jack Alan Reynolds
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In Phyllis McKay Illari, Federica Russo & Jon Williamson (eds.), Causality in the Sciences. OUP Oxford (2011)
Mechanisms have become much-discussed, yet there is still no consensus on how to characterise them. In this paper, we start with something everyone is agreed on – that mechanisms explain – and investigate what constraints this imposes on our metaphysics of mechanisms. We examine two widely shared premises about how to understand mechanistic explanation: (1) that mechanistic explanation offers a welcome alternative to traditional laws-based explanation and (2) that there are two senses of mechanistic explanation that we call ‘epistemic explanation’ and ‘physical explanation’. We argue that mechanistic explanation requires that mechanisms are both real and local. We then go on to argue that real, local mechanisms require a broadly active metaphysics for mechanisms, such as a capacities metaphysics.
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Citations of this work BETA
Holly Andersen (2012). The Case for Regularity in Mechanistic Causal Explanation. Synthese 189 (3):415-432.
Cory Wright (2015). The Ontic Conception of Scientific Explanation. Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part A 54:20-30.
Stefan Dragulinescu (2012). On 'Stabilising' Medical Mechanisms, Truth-Makers and Epistemic Causality: A Critique to Williamson and Russo's Approach. Synthese 187 (2):785-800.
Jon Williamson (2013). How Can Causal Explanations Explain? Erkenntnis 78 (2):257-275.
Phyllis Illari & Jon Williamson (2013). In Defence of Activities. Journal for General Philosophy of Science / Zeitschrift für Allgemeine Wissenschaftstheorie 44 (1):69-83.
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