Search results for 'mechanistic explanation' (try it on Scholar)

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  1.  72
    Ingo Brigandt (2013). Systems Biology and the Integration of Mechanistic Explanation and Mathematical Explanation. Studies in History and Philosophy of Biological and Biomedical Sciences 44 (4):477-492.
    The paper discusses how systems biology is working toward complex accounts that integrate explanation in terms of mechanisms and explanation by mathematical models—which some philosophers have viewed as rival models of explanation. Systems biology is an integrative approach, and it strongly relies on mathematical modeling. Philosophical accounts of mechanisms capture integrative in the sense of multilevel and multifield explanations, yet accounts of mechanistic explanation (as the analysis of a whole in terms of its structural parts (...)
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  2.  72
    Carlos Zednik (forthcoming). Heuristics, Descriptions and the Scope of Mechanistic Explanation. In P. Braillard & C. Malaterre (eds.), Explanation in Biology. An Enquiry into the Diversity of Explanatory Patterns in the Life Sciences. Springer
    The philosophical conception of mechanistic explanation is grounded on a limited number of canonical examples. These examples provide an overly narrow view of contemporary scientific practice, because they do not reflect the extent to which the heuristic strategies and descriptive practices that contribute to mechanistic explanation have evolved beyond the well-known methods of decomposition, localization, and pictorial representation. Recent examples from evolutionary robotics and network approaches to biology and neuroscience demonstrate the increasingly important role (...)
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  3.  93
    Olga Pombo (2015). Reconciling Ontic and Epistemic Constraints on Mechanistic Explanation, Epistemically. Axiomathes 25 (1):5-22.
    In this paper I address the current debate on ontic versus epistemic conceptualizations of mechanistic explanation in the mechanisms literature. Illari recently argued that good explanations are subject to both ontic and epistemic constraints: they must describe mechanisms in the world in such fashion that they provide understanding of their workings. Elaborating upon Illari’s ‘integration’ account, I argue that causal role function discovery of mechanisms and their components is an epistemic prerequisite for achieving these two aims. This (...)
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  4.  14
    Eric Hochstein (forthcoming). One Mechanism, Many Models: A Distributed Theory of Mechanistic Explanation. Synthese:1-21.
    There have been recent disagreements in the philosophy of neuroscience regarding which sorts of scientific models provide mechanistic explanations, and which do not. These disagreements often hinge on two commonly adopted, but conflicting, ways of understanding mechanistic explanations: what I call the “representation-as” account, and the “representation-of” account. In this paper, I argue that neither account does justice to neuroscientific practice. In their place, I offer a new alternative that can defuse some of these disagreements. I argue that (...)
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  5.  28
    David Barrett (2014). Functional Analysis and Mechanistic Explanation. Synthese 191 (12):2695-2714.
    Piccinini and Craver (Synthese 183:283–311, 2011) argue for the surprising view that psychological explanation, properly understood, is a species of mechanistic explanation. This contrasts with the ‘received view’ (due, primarily, to Cummins and Fodor) which maintains a sharp distinction between psychological explanation and mechanistic explanation. The former is typically construed as functional analysis, the analysis of some psychological capacity into an organized series of subcapacities without specifying any of the structural (...)
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  6.  92
    F. Michael Akeroyd (2008). Mechanistic Explanation Versus Deductive-Nomological Explanation. Foundations of Chemistry 10 (1):39-48.
    This paper discusses the important paper by Paul Thagard on the pathway version of mechanistic explanation that is currently used in chemical explanation. The author claims that this method of explanation has a respectable pedigree and can be traced back to the Chemical Revolution in the arguments used by the Lavoisier School in their theoretical duels with Richard Kirwan, the proponent of a revised phlogistonian theory. Kirwan believed that complex chemical reactions could be explained by recourse (...)
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  7.  3
    Dingmar van Eck (2015). Mechanistic Explanation in Engineering Science. European Journal for Philosophy of Science 5 (3):349-375.
    In this paper I apply the mechanistic account of explanation to engineering science. I discuss two ways in which this extension offers further development of the mechanistic view. First, functional individuation of mechanisms in engineering science proceeds by means of two distinct sub types of role function, behavior function and effect function, rather than role function simpliciter. Second, it offers refined assessment of the explanatory power of mechanistic explanations. It is argued that in the context of (...)
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  8.  14
    Nick Chater (2014). Cognitive Science as an Interface Between Rational and Mechanistic Explanation. Topics in Cognitive Science 6 (2):331-337.
    Cognitive science views thought as computation; and computation, by its very nature, can be understood in both rational and mechanistic terms. In rational terms, a computation solves some information processing problem (e.g., mapping sensory information into a description of the external world; parsing a sentence; selecting among a set of possible actions). In mechanistic terms, a computation corresponds to causal chain of events in a physical device (in engineering context, a silicon chip; in biological context, the nervous system). (...)
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  9. Cory D. Wright (2012). Mechanistic Explanation Without the Ontic Conception. European Journal of Philosophy of Science 2 (3):375-394.
    The ontic conception of scientific explanation has been constructed and motivated on the basis of a putative lexical ambiguity in the term explanation. I raise a puzzle for this ambiguity claim, and then give a deflationary solution under which all ontically-rendered talk of explanation is merely elliptical; what it is elliptical for is a view of scientific explanation that altogether avoids the ontic conception. This result has revisionary consequences for New Mechanists and (...)
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  10.  30
    Johannes Persson (2012). Mechanistic Explanation in Social Contexts: Elster and the Problem of Local Scientific Growth. Social Epistemology 26 (1):105-114.
    Jon Elster worries about the explanatory power of the social sciences. His main concern is that they have so few well-established laws. Elster develops an interesting substitute: a special kind of mechanism designed to fill the explanatory gap between laws and mere description. However, his mechanisms suffer from a characteristic problem that I will explore in this article. As our causal knowledge of a specific problem grows we might come to know too much to make use of an Elsterian mechanism (...)
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  11.  69
    Stuart Glennan (2002). Rethinking Mechanistic Explanation. Proceedings of the Philosophy of Science Association 2002 (3):S342-353.
    Philosophers of science typically associate the causal-mechanical view of scientific explanation with the work of Railton and Salmon. In this paper I shall argue that the defects of this view arise from an inadequate analysis of the concept of mechanism. I contrast Salmon's account of mechanisms in terms of the causal nexus with my own account of mechanisms, in which mechanisms are viewed as complex systems. After describing these two concepts of mechanism, I show how the complex-systems approach avoids (...)
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  12.  90
    D. Benjamin Barros (2013). Negative Causation in Causal and Mechanistic Explanation. Synthese 190 (3):449-469.
    Instances of negative causation—preventions, omissions, and the like—have long created philosophical worries. In this paper, I argue that concerns about negative causation can be addressed in the context of causal explanation generally, and mechanistic explanation specifically. The gravest concern about negative causation is that it exacerbates the problem of causal promiscuity—that is, the problem that arises when a particular account of causation identifies too many causes for a particular effect. In the explanatory context, the problem of promiscuity (...)
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  13.  90
    James Woodward (2013). Mechanistic Explanation: Its Scope and Limits. Aristotelian Society Supplementary Volume 87 (1):39-65.
    This paper explores the question of whether all or most explanations in biology are, or ideally should be, ‘mechanistic’. I begin by providing an account of mechanistic explanation, making use of the interventionist ideas about causation I have developed elsewhere. This account emphasizes the way in which mechanistic explanations, at least in the biological sciences, integrate difference-making and spatio-temporal information, and exhibit what I call fine-tunedness of organization. I also emphasize the role played by modularity conditions (...)
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  14. John Matthewson & Brett Calcott, Mechanistic Explanation Without Mechanisms.
    We provide an account of mechanistic representation and explanation that has several advantages over previous proposals. In our view, explaining mechanistically is not simply giving an explanation of a mechanism. Rather, an explanation is mechanistic because of particular relations that hold between a mechanical representation, or model, and the target of explanation. Under this interpretation, mechanistic explanation is possible even when the explanatory target is not a mechanism. We argue that taking this (...)
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  15.  41
    Ingo Brigandt (2015). Evolutionary Developmental Biology and the Limits of Philosophical Accounts of Mechanistic Explanation. In P.-A. Braillard & C. Malaterre (eds.), Explanation in Biology: An Enquiry into the Diversity of Explanatory Patterns in the Life Sciences. Springer 135–173.
    Evolutionary developmental biology (evo-devo) is considered a ‘mechanistic science,’ in that it causally explains morphological evolution in terms of changes in developmental mechanisms. Evo-devo is also an interdisciplinary and integrative approach, as its explanations use contributions from many fields and pertain to different levels of organismal organization. Philosophical accounts of mechanistic explanation are currently highly prominent, and have been particularly able to capture the integrative nature of multifield and multilevel explanations. However, I argue that evo-devo demonstrates the (...)
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  16.  17
    Sasan Haghighi, The Role of Philosophy in Cognitive Science: Normativity, Generality, Mechanistic Explanation. OZSW 2013 Rotterdam.
    ID: 89 / Parallel 4k: 2 Single paper Topics: Philosophy of mind, Philosophy of science Keywords: Cognitive Science, Cognitive Neuroscience, Mechanistic explanations, Reductionism, Normativity, Generality, Emerging School of Philosophers of Science. The role of philosophy in cognitive science: mechanistic explanations, normativity, generality Mohammadreza Haghighi Fard Leiden University, Netherlands, The; haghighiphil@aol.com Introduction -/- Cognitive science, as an interdisciplinary research endeavour, seeks to explain mental activities such as reasoning, remembering, language use, and problem solving, and the explanations it advances commonly (...)
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  17. William Bechtel (2009). Looking Down, Around, and Up: Mechanistic Explanation in Psychology. Philosophical Psychology 22 (5):543-564.
    Accounts of mechanistic explanation have emphasized the importance of looking down—decomposing a mechanism into its parts and operations. Using research on visual processing as an exemplar, I illustrate how productive such research has been. But once multiple components of a mechanism have been identified, researchers also need to figure out how it is organized—they must look around and determine how to recompose the mechanism. Although researchers often begin by trying to recompose the mechanism in terms of sequential operations, (...)
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  18.  1
    Alan C. Love & Marco J. Nathan (2015). The Idealization of Causation in Mechanistic Explanation. Philosophy of Science 82 (5):761-774.
    Causal relations among components and activities are intentionally misrepresented in mechanistic explanations found routinely across the life sciences. Since several mechanists explicitly advocate accurately representing factors that make a difference to the outcome, these idealizations conflict with the stated rationale for mechanistic explanation. We argue that these idealizations signal an overlooked feature of reasoning in molecular and cell biology—mechanistic explanations do not occur in isolation—and suggest that explanatory practices within the mechanistic tradition share commonalities with (...)
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  19.  42
    Jonathan Waskan (2011). Mechanistic Explanation at the Limit. Synthese 183 (3):389-408.
    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 (...)
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  20.  34
    Phyllis Illari (2013). Mechanistic Explanation: Integrating the Ontic and Epistemic. Erkenntnis 78 (2):237-255.
    Craver claims that mechanistic explanation is ontic, while Bechtel claims that it is epistemic. While this distinction between ontic and epistemic explanation originates with Salmon, the ideas have changed in the modern debate on mechanistic explanation, where the frame of the debate is changing. I will explore what Bechtel and Craver’s claims mean, and argue that good mechanistic explanations must satisfy both ontic and epistemic normative constraints on what is a good explanation. I (...)
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  21.  69
    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 45 (1):43-48.
    Much contemporary debate on the nature of mechanisms centers on the issue of modulating negative causes. One type of negative causability, which I refer to as “causation by absence,” appears difficult to incorporate into modern accounts of mechanistic explanation. This paper argues that a recent attempt to resolve this problem, proposed by Benjamin Barros, requires improvement as it overlooks the fact that not all absences qualify as sources of mechanism failure. I suggest that there are a number of (...)
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  22.  19
    F. J. Bruggeman, H. V. Westerhoff & F. C. Boogerd (2002). Biocomplexity: A Pluralist Research Strategy is Necessary for a Mechanistic Explanation of the "Live" State. Philosophical Psychology 15 (4):411 – 440.
    The biological sciences study (bio)complex living systems. Research directed at the mechanistic explanation of the "live" state truly requires a pluralist research program, i.e. BioComplexity research. The program should apply multiple intra-level and inter-level theories and methodologies. We substantiate this thesis with analysis of BioComplexity: metabolic and modular control analysis of metabolic pathways, emergence of oscillations, and the analysis of the functioning of glycolysis.
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  23.  6
    Markus I. Eronen (2011). Replacing Functional Reduction with Mechanistic Explanation. Philosophia Naturalis 47 (1-2):1-2.
    Recently the functional model of reduction has become something like the standard model of reduction in philosophy of mind. In this paper, I argue that the functional model fails as an account of reduction due to problems related to three key concepts: functionalization, realization and causation. I further argue that if we try to revise the model in order to make it more coherent and scientifically plausible, the result is merely a simplified version of what in philosophy of science is (...)
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  24.  15
    Denis Forest (2009). Comments on William Bechtel's “Looking Down, Around, and Up: Mechanistic Explanation in Psychology”. Philosophical Psychology 22 (5):565-573.
    The first part of this paper deals with the relations between mechanistic explanation and reduction. It is argued that there is no insuperable conflict between the two, but that the mechanistic framework adds requirements that are not acknowledged in the model of property reduction. The second part concerns the relations between organization and environmental factors. Internal organization may be so tightly linked to external context that both have to be considered together.
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  25. Derek John Skillings (2015). Mechanistic Explanation of Biological Processes. Philosophy of Science 82 (5):1139-1151.
    Biological processes are often explained by identifying the underlying mechanisms that generate a phenomenon of interest. I characterize a basic account of mechanistic explanation and then present three challenges to this account, illustrated with examples from molecular biology. The basic mechanistic account is insufficient for explaining nonsequential and nonlinear dynamic processes, is insufficient for explaining the inherently stochastic nature of many biological mechanisms, and fails to give a proper framework for analyzing organization. I suggest that biological processes (...)
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  26.  21
    Dana Matthiessen (forthcoming). Mechanistic Explanation in Systems Biology: Cellular Networks. British Journal for the Philosophy of Science:axv011.
    It is argued that once biological systems reach a certain level of complexity, mechanistic explanations provide an inadequate account of many relevant phenomena. In this article, I evaluate such claims with respect to a representative programme in systems biological research: the study of regulatory networks within single-celled organisms. I argue that these networks are amenable to mechanistic philosophy without need to appeal to some alternate form of explanation. In particular, I claim that we can understand the mathematical (...)
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  27. William Bechtel & Adele Abrahamsen (2005). Mechanistic Explanation and the Nature-Nurture Controversy. Bulletin d'Histoire Et d'pistmologie Des Sciences de La Vie 12:75-100.
    Both in biology and psychology there has been a tendency on the part of many investigators to focus solely on the mature organism and ignore development. There are many reasons for this, but an important one is that the explanatory framework often invoked in the life sciences for understanding a given phenomenon, according to which explanation consists in identifying the mechanism that produces that phenomenon, both makes it possible to side-step the development issue and to provide inadequate resources for (...)
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  28.  20
    Joachim Frans & Erik Weber (2014). Mechanistic Explanation and Explanatory Proofs in Mathematics. Philosophia Mathematica 22 (2):231-248.
    Although there is a consensus among philosophers of mathematics and mathematicians that mathematical explanations exist, only a few authors have proposed accounts of explanation in mathematics. These accounts fit into the unificationist or top-down approach to explanation. We argue that these models can be complemented by a bottom-up approach to explanation in mathematics. We introduce the mechanistic model of explanation in science and discuss the possibility of using this model in mathematics, arguing that using it (...)
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  29. 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
    This paper critiques the new mechanistic explanatory program on grounds that, even when applied to the kinds of examples that it was originally designed to treat, it does not distinguish correct explanations from those that blunder. First, I offer a systematization of the explanatory account, one according to which explanations are mechanistic models that satisfy three desiderata: they must 1) represent causal relations, 2) describe the proper parts, and 3) depict the system at the right ‘level.’ Second, I (...)
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  30.  71
    Samuel Schindler (2013). Mechanistic Explanation: Asymmetry Lost. In Karakostas and Dieks (ed.), “Recent Progress in Philosophy of Science: Perspectives and Foundational Problems”. Springer
    In a recent book and an article, Carl Craver construes the relations between different levels of a mechanism, which he also refers to as constitutive relations, in terms of mutual manipulability (MM). Interpreted metaphysically, MM implies that inter-level relations are symmetrical. MM thus violates one of the main desiderata of scientific explanation, namely explanatory asymmetry. Parts of Craver’s writings suggest a metaphysical interpretation of MM, and Craver explicitly commits to constitutive relationships being symmetrical. The paper furthermore explores the option (...)
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  31.  6
    William Bechtel (2015). Can Mechanistic Explanation Be Reconciled with Scale-Free Constitution and Dynamics? Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part C: Studies in History and Philosophy of Biological and Biomedical Sciences 53:84-93.
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  32. William Bechtel & Adele Abrahamsen (2010). Dynamic Mechanistic Explanation: Computational Modeling of Circadian Rhythms as an Exemplar for Cognitive Science. Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part A 41 (3):321-333.
    Two widely accepted assumptions within cognitive science are that (1) the goal is to understand the mechanisms responsible for cognitive performances and (2) computational modeling is a major tool for understanding these mechanisms. The particular approaches to computational modeling adopted in cognitive science, moreover, have significantly affected the way in which cognitive mechanisms are understood. Unable to employ some of the more common methods for conducting research on mechanisms, cognitive scientists’ guiding ideas about mechanism have developed in conjunction with their (...)
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  33.  62
    Jeroen de Ridder (2006). Mechanistic Artefact Explanation. Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part A 37 (1):81-96.
    One thing about technical artefacts that needs to be explained is how their physical make-up, or structure, enables them to fulfil the behaviour associated with their function, or, more colloquially, how they work. In this paper I develop an account of such explanations based on the familiar notion of mechanistic explanation. To accomplish this, I (1) outline two explanatory strategies that provide two different types of insight into an artefact’s functioning, and (2) show how human action inevi- tably (...)
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  34. Vivian M. Weil (1980). Intentional and Mechanistic Explanation. Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 40 (June):459-473.
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  35.  66
    Carl F. Craver (2008). Physical Law and Mechanistic Explanation in the Hodgkin and Huxley Model of the Action Potential. Philosophy of Science 75 (5):1022-1033.
    Hodgkin and Huxley’s model of the action potential is an apparent dream case of covering‐law explanation in biology. The model includes laws of physics and chemistry that, coupled with details about antecedent and background conditions, can be used to derive features of the action potential. Hodgkin and Huxley insist that their model is not an explanation. This suggests either that subsuming a phenomenon under physical laws is insufficient to explain it or that Hodgkin and Huxley were wrong. I (...)
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  36. Gualtiero Piccinini (2007). Computational Explanation and Mechanistic Explanation of Mind. In Francesco Ferretti, Massimo Marraffa & Mario De Caro (eds.), Synthese. Springer 343-353.
    According to the computational theory of mind (CTM), mental capacities are explained by inner computations, which in biological organisms are realized in the brain. Computational explanation is so popular and entrenched that it’s common for scientists and philosophers to assume CTM without argument.
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  37.  12
    Melinda Bonnie Fagan (2012). The Joint Account of Mechanistic Explanation. Philosophy of Science 79 (4):448-472.
  38.  9
    Alexander Reutlinger (2011). What's Wrong with the Pragmatic-Ontic Account of Mechanistic Explanation? In Dennis Dieks, Wenceslao Gonzalo, Thomas Uebel, Stephan Hartmann & Marcel Weber (eds.), Explanation, Prediction, and Confirmation. Springer 141--152.
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  39. Stuart Glennan (2002). Rethinking Mechanistic Explanation. Philosophy of Science 69 (S3):S342-S353.
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  40.  6
    Miles MacLeod & Nancy J. Nersessian (2015). Modeling Systems-Level Dynamics: Understanding Without Mechanistic Explanation in Integrative Systems Biology. Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part C: Studies in History and Philosophy of Biological and Biomedical Sciences 49:1-11.
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  41.  16
    Fabrizzio Guerrero Mc Manus (2012). Development and Mechanistic Explanation. Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part C 43 (2):532-541.
  42. Ernest Nagel (1951). Mechanistic Explanation and Organismic Biology. Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 11 (3):327-338.
  43.  15
    Melinda Bonnie Fagan (2012). The Joint Account of Mechanistic Explanation. Philosophy of Science 79 (4):448-472.
  44.  2
    F. Michael Akeroyd (2008). Mechanistic Explanation Versus Deductive-Nomological Explanation. Foundations of Chemistry 10 (1):39-48.
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  45.  3
    Max Kistler, Mechanistic Explanation and Causality.
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  46. Tudor Băetu (2015). When Is a Mechanistic Explanation Satisfactory? Reductionism and Antireductionism in the Context of Mechanistic Explanations. In Iulian D. Toader, Gabriel Sandu & Ilie Pȃrvu (eds.), Romanian Studies in Philosophy of Science. Springer International Publishing
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  47. Ingo Brigandt (2013). Systems Biology and the Integration of Mechanistic Explanation and Mathematical Explanation. Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part C: Studies in History and Philosophy of Biological and Biomedical Sciences 44 (4):477-492.
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  48. Nancy L. Maull (1982). Berkeley on the Limits of Mechanistic Explanation. In Colin M. Turbayne (ed.), Berkeley: Critical and Interpretive Essays.
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  49. Fabrizzio Mc Manus (2012). Development and Mechanistic Explanation. Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part C: Studies in History and Philosophy of Biological and Biomedical Sciences 43 (2):532-541.
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  50. 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.
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