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  1. Exposition and Critique of the Conceptions of Eddington Concerning the Philosophy of Physical Science. [REVIEW]P. D. M. A. - 1961 - Review of Metaphysics 15 (2):347-347.
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  2. Mechanisms: What Are They Evidence for in Evidence-Based Medicine.Holly Andersen - 2012 - Journal of Evaluation in Clinical Practice 18 (5):992-999.
    Even though the evidence‐based medicine movement (EBM) labels mechanisms a low quality form of evidence, consideration of the mechanisms on which medicine relies, and the distinct roles that mechanisms might play in clinical practice, offers a number of insights into EBM itself. In this paper, I examine the connections between EBM and mechanisms from several angles. I diagnose what went wrong in two examples where mechanistic reasoning failed to generate accurate predictions for how a dysfunctional mechanism would respond to intervention. (...)
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  3. Structures, Fictions, and the Explanatory Epistemology of Mathematics in Science.Mark Balaguer, Elaine Landry, Sorin Bangu & Christopher Pincock - 2013 - Metascience 22 (2):247-273.
  4. Functional Analysis and Mechanistic Explanation.David Barrett - 2014 - 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 features that underlie the explanandum capacity. The latter idea, of (...)
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  5. The Devil in the Details: Asymptotic Reasoning in Explanation, Reduction, and Emergence.Robert W. Batterman - 2001 - Oxford University Press.
    Robert Batterman examines a form of scientific reasoning called asymptotic reasoning, arguing that it has important consequences for our understanding of the scientific process as a whole. He maintains that asymptotic reasoning is essential for explaining what physicists call universal behavior. With clarity and rigor, he simplifies complex questions about universal behavior, demonstrating a profound understanding of the underlying structures that ground them. This book introduces a valuable new method that is certain to fill explanatory gaps across disciplines.
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  6. Enriching the Strategies for Creating Mechanistic Explanations in Biology.William Bechtel - unknown
    To demonstrate that a proposed mechanism could explain a phenomenon, biologists must recompose the mechanism. Traditionally they have relied on mentally rehearsing the operations, often aided by a mechanism diagram. Such a strategy has reached its limits in contemporary biology. For example, through mental rehearsal alone researchers cannot determine whether a feedback mechanism will generate sustained oscillation. Accordingly, mechanistic inclined biologists are enriching their strategies, relying on computational simulation and graph-theoretical analyses of networks. The limitations of traditional approaches and the (...)
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  7. Mechanists Must Be Holists Too: Perspectives From Circadian Biology.William Bechtel - unknown
    The pursuit of mechanistic explanations in biology has produced a great deal of knowledge about the parts, operations, and organization of mechanisms taken to be responsible for biological phenomena. Holist critics have often raised important criticisms of proposed mechanistic explanations, but until recently holists have not had alternative research strategies through which to advance explanations. This paper argues both that the results of mechanistic strategies has forced mechanists to confront ways in which whole systems affect their components and that new (...)
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  8. Reducing Psychology While Maintaining its Autonomy Via Mechanistic Explanations.William Bechtel - 2007 - In M. Schouten & H. L. De Joong (eds.), The Matter of the Mind: Philosophical Essays on Psychology, Neuroscience and Reduction. Blackwell.
    Arguments for the autonomy of psychology or other higher-level sciences have often taken the form of denying the possibility of reduction. The form of reduction most proponents and critics of the autonomy of psychology have in mind is theory reduction. Mechanistic explanations provide a different perspective. Mechanistic explanations are reductionist insofar as they appeal to lower-level entities—the component parts of a mechanism and their operations— to explain a phenomenon. However, unlike theory reductions, mechanistic explanations also recognize the fundamental role of (...)
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  9. Explanation: A Mechanist Alternative.William Bechtel - 2005 - Studies in History and Philosophy of Biol and Biomed Sci 36 (2):421--441.
    Explanations in the life sciences frequently involve presenting a model of the mechanism taken to be responsible for a given phenomenon. Such explanations depart in numerous ways from nomological explanations commonly presented in philosophy of science. This paper focuses on three sorts of differences. First, scientists who develop mechanistic explanations are not limited to linguistic representations and logical inference; they frequently employ dia- grams to characterize mechanisms and simulations to reason about them. Thus, the epistemic resources for presenting mechanistic explanations (...)
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  10. Decomposing, Recomposing, and Situating Circadian Mechanisms: Three Tasks in Developing Mechanistic Explanations.William Bechtel & Adele Abrahamsen - 2009 - In H. Leitgeb & A. Hieke (eds.), Reduction: Between the Mind and the Brain. Ontos. pp. 12--177.
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  11. What Mechanisms Can’T Do: Explanatory Frameworks and the Function of the P53 Gene in Molecular Oncology.Alessandro Blasimme, Paolo Maugeri & Pierre-Luc Germain - 2013 - Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part C: Studies in History and Philosophy of Biological and Biomedical Sciences 44 (3):374-384.
    What has been called the new mechanistic philosophy conceives of mechanisms as the main providers of biological explanation. We draw on the characterization of the p53 gene in molecular oncology, to show that explaining a biological phenomenon implies instead a dynamic interaction between the mechanistic level—rendered at the appropriate degree of ontological resolution—and far more general explanatory tools that perform a fundamental epistemic role in the provision of biological explanations. We call such tools “explanatory frameworks”. They are called frameworks to (...)
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  12. Dispositional Versus Epistemic Causality.Paul Bohan Broderick, Johannes Lenhard & Arnold Silverberg - 2006 - Minds and Machines 16 (3).
    Noam Chomsky and Frances Egan argue that David Marr’s computational theory of vision is not intentional, claiming that the formal scientific theory does not include description of visual content. They also argue that the theory is internalist in the sense of not describing things physically external to the perceiver. They argue that these claims hold for computational theories of vision in general. Beyond theories of vision, they argue that representational content does not figure as a topic within formal computational theories (...)
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  13. Functional Explanations of Memory.Darryl Bruce - 1989 - In L. Poon, David C. Rubin & B. Wilson (eds.), Everyday Cognition in Adulthood and Late Life. Cambridge University Press. pp. 44--58.
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  14. Mechanistic Explanations and Structure-Determined Systems Maturana and the Human Sciences.Paula Burghgraeve - 1992 - In G. van der Vijve (ed.), New Perspectives on Cybernetics. pp. 207--217.
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  15. The Mechanistic Problem.Paul Carus - 1913 - The Monist 23 (1):148-150.
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  16. The Autonomy of Psychology.Tim Crane - 1999 - In Rob Wilson & Frank Keil (eds.), The MIT Encyclopedia of the Cognitive Sciences. MIT Press.
    Psychology has been considered to have an autonomy from the other sciences (especially physical science) in at least two ways: in its subject-matter and in its methods. To say that the subject-matter of psychology is autonomous is to say that psychology deals with entities—properties, relations, states—which are not dealt with or not wholly explicable in terms of physical (or any other) science. Contrasted with this is the idea that psychology employs a characteristic method of explanation, which is not shared by (...)
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  17. Beyond Reduction: Mechanisms, Multifield Integration and the Unity of Neuroscience.Carl F. Craver - 2005 - Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part C: Studies in History and Philosophy of Biological and Biomedical Sciences 36 (2):373-395.
  18. Levels of Explanation in Biological Psychology.Huib L. de Jong - 2002 - Philosophical Psychology 15 (4):441-462.
    Until recently, the notions of function and multiple realization were supposed to save the autonomy of psychological explanations. Furthermore, the concept of supervenience presumably allows both dependence of mind on brain and non-reducibility of mind to brain, reconciling materialism with an independent explanatory role for mental and functional concepts and explanations. Eliminativism is often seen as the main or only alternative to such autonomy. It gladly accepts abandoning or thoroughly reconstructing the psychological level, and considers reduction if successful as equivalent (...)
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  19. A Note on Functional Explanation.Wilhelm K. Essler - 1978 - Erkenntnis 13 (1):371 - 376.
  20. Explanations of the Evolution of Sex: A Plurality of Local Mechanisms.Carla Fehr - 2006 - In Stephen H. Kellert, Helen E. Longino & C. Kenneth Waters (eds.), Scientific Pluralism, Minnesota Studies in the Philosophy of Science. University of Minnesota Press. pp. 167-189.
    The evolutionary maintenance of sexual reproduction is a case of explanatory pluralism of central importance to evolutionary biology. I analyze this pluralism from an epistemological perspective. My thesis is that the various explanations of sex are explanatory by virtue of local factors and hence are importantly distinct from one another and cannot be subsumed under a single unifying framework. A critic may argue that philosophical accounts of mechanism can provide just such a framework. I show that this attempt at unification (...)
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  21. It's a Matter of Principle: Scientific Explanation in Information‐Theoretic Reconstructions of Quantum Theory.Laura Felline - 2016 - Dialectica 70 (4):549-575.
    The aim of this paper is to explore the ways in which Axiomatic Reconstructions of Quantum Theory in terms of Information-Theoretic principles can contribute to explaining and understanding quantum phenomena, as well as to study their explanatory limitations. This is achieved in part by offering an account of the kind of explanation that axiomatic reconstructions of Quantum Theory provide, and re-evaluating the epistemic status of the program in light of this explanation. As illustrative case studies, I take Clifton's, Bub's and (...)
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  22. Structural Explanation From Special Relativity to Quantum Information Theory.Laura Felline - 2010 - In M. D'Agostino, G. Giorello & F. Laudisa (eds.), SILFS New Essays in Logic and Philosophy of Science. College Pubblications.
  23. Comments on W. Bechtel.Denis Forest - unknown
    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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  24. The Structure of Physical Explanation.John Forge - 1980 - Philosophy of Science 47 (2):203-226.
    Some features of physical science relevant for a discussion of physical explanation are mentioned. The D-N account of physical explanation is discussed, and it is seen to restrict the scope of explanation in physical science because it imposes the requirement that the explanandum must be deducible from the explanans. Analysis shows that an alternative view of scientific explanation, called the instance view, allows a wider range of physical explanations. The view is seen to be free from a certain class of (...)
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  25. How Nancy Cartwright Tells the Truth.Allan Franklin - 1988 - British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 39 (4):527-529.
  26. Rethinking Mechanistic Explanation.Stuart Glennan - 2002 - 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 certain (...)
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  27. On Physical Model Explanations in Psychology.R. L. Gregory - 1953 - British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 4 (15):192-197.
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  28. Measuring Causal Specificity.Paul E. Griffiths, Arnaud Pocheville, Brett Calcott, Karola Stotz, Hyunju Kim & Rob Knight - 2015 - Philosophy of Science 82 (4):529-555.
    Several authors have argued that causes differ in the degree to which they are ‘specific’ to their effects. Woodward has used this idea to enrich his influential interventionist theory of causal explanation. Here we propose a way to measure causal specificity using tools from information theory. We show that the specificity of a causal variable is not well defined without a probability distribution over the states of that variable. We demonstrate the tractability and interest of our proposed measure by measuring (...)
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  29. Regularity Constitution and the Location of Mechanistic Levels.Jens Harbecke - 2015 - Foundations of Science 20 (3):323-338.
    This paper discusses the role of levels and level-bound theoretical terms in neurobiological explanations under the presupposition of a regularity theory of constitution. After presenting the definitions for the constitution relation and the notion of a mechanistic level in the sense of the regularity theory, the paper develops a set of inference rules that allow to determine whether two mechanisms referred to by one or more accepted explanations belong to the same level, or to different levels. The rules are characterized (...)
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  30. Vagueness and Mechanistic Explanation in Neuroscience.Philipp Haueis - 2013 - Croatian Journal of Philosophy 13 (2):251-275.
    The problem of fuzzy boundaries when delineating cortical areas is widely known in human brain mapping and its adjacent subdisciplines . Yet, a conceptual framework for understanding indeterminacy in neuroscience is missing, and there has been no discussion in the philosophy of neuroscience whether indeterminacy poses an issue for good neuroscientific explanations. My paper addresses both these issues by applying philosophical theories of vagueness to three levels of neuroscientific research, namely to cytoarchitectonic studies at the neuron level intra-areal neuronalinteraction measured (...)
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  31. Diversifying the Picture of Explanations in Biological Sciences: Ways of Combining Topology with Mechanisms.Philippe Huneman - forthcoming - Synthese:1-32.
    Besides mechanistic explanations of phenomena, which have been seriously investigated in the last decade, biology and ecology also include explanations that pinpoint specific mathematical properties as explanatory of the explanandum under focus. Among these structural explanations, one finds topological explanations, and recent science pervasively relies on them. This reliance is especially due to the necessity to model large sets of data with no practical possibility to track the proper activities of all the numerous entities. The paper first defines topological explanations (...)
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  32. Models and Inferences in Science.Emiliano Ippoliti, Fabio Sterpetti & Thomas Nickles (eds.) - 2016 - Springer.
    The book answers long-standing questions on scientific modeling and inference across multiple perspectives and disciplines, including logic, mathematics, physics and medicine. The different chapters cover a variety of issues, such as the role models play in scientific practice; the way science shapes our concept of models; ways of modeling the pursuit of scientific knowledge; the relationship between our concept of models and our concept of science. The book also discusses models and scientific explanations; models in the semantic view of theories; (...)
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  33. Mechanistic and Topological Explanations: An Introduction.Daniel Kostić - 2016 - Synthese:1-10.
    In the last 20 years or so, since the publication of a seminal paper by Watts and Strogatz :440–442, 1998), an interest in topological explanations has spread like a wild fire over many areas of science, e.g. ecology, evolutionary biology, medicine, and cognitive neuroscience. The topological approach is still very young by all standards, and even within special sciences it still doesn’t have a single methodological programme that is applicable across all areas of science. That is why this special issue (...)
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  34. Mechanistic Science and Metaphysical Romance.Jacques Loeb - 1915 - Philosophical Review 24:570.
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  35. Modeling Systems-Level Dynamics: Understanding Without Mechanistic Explanation in Integrative Systems Biology.Miles MacLeod & Nancy J. Nersessian - 2015 - Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part C: Studies in History and Philosophy of Biological and Biomedical Sciences 49:1-11.
  36. Law and Explanation in Biology: Invariance is the Kind of Stability.That Matters - 2001 - Philosophy of Science 68 (1):1-20.
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  37. Towards a Non-Mechanistic Theory of Meaning.Richard McDonough - 1989 - Mind 98 (389):1-21.
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  38. The Rationality Principle Idealized.Boaz Miller - 2012 - Social Epistemology 26 (1):3-30.
    According to Popper's rationality principle, agents act in the most adequate way according to the objective situation. I propose a new interpretation of the rationality principle as consisting of an idealization and two abstractions. Based on this new interpretation, I critically discuss the privileged status that Popper ascribes to it as an integral part of all social scientific models. I argue that as an idealization, the rationality principle may play an important role in the social sciences, but it also has (...)
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  39. Introduction to Finale Debate: Holistic Approach in Biology and Neuroscience.Javier Monserrat - 2011 - Pensamiento 67 (254):733-743.
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  40. The Mechanistic Foundations of Economic Analysis.John Moorhouse - 1978 - Reason Papers 4:49-67.
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  41. Functional Explanations in Biology.Ernest Nagel - 1977 - Journal of Philosophy 74 (5):280-301.
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  42. God by Design?Jan Narveson - 2003 - In Neil A. Manson (ed.), God and Design: The Teleological Argument and Modern Science. Routledge. pp. 80--88.
  43. Prisoner's Dilemma Doesn't Explain Much.Robert Northcott & A. Alexandrova - 2015 - In Martin Peterson (ed.), The Prisoner’s Dilemma. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. pp. 64-84.
    We make the case that the Prisoner’s Dilemma, notwithstanding its fame and the quantity of intellectual resources devoted to it, has largely failed to explain any phenomena of social scientific or biological interest. In the heart of the paper we examine in detail a famous purported example of Prisoner’s Dilemma empirical success, namely Axelrod’s analysis of WWI trench warfare, and argue that this success is greatly overstated. Further, we explain why this negative verdict is likely true generally and not just (...)
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  44. Perceiving Design.Del Ratzsch - 2003 - In Neil A. Manson (ed.), God and Design: The Teleological Argument and Modern Science. Routledge.
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  45. Explaining Explanation.David-Hillel Ruben - 1990 - Routledge.
    This book introduces readers to the topic of explanation. The insights of Plato, Aristotle, J.S. Mill and Carl Hempel are examined, and are used to argue against the view that explanation is merely a problem for the philosophy of science. Having established its importance for understanding knowledge in general, the book concludes with a bold and original explanation of explanation.
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  46. Explanation in the Social Sciences: Singular Explanation and the Social Sciences.David-Hillel Ruben - 1990 - Royal Institute of Philosophy Supplement 27:95-117.
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  47. Constraints on Localization and Decomposition as Explanatory Strategies in the Biological Sciences.Michael Silberstein & Tony Chemero - unknown
    Several articles have recently appeared arguing that there really are no viable alternatives to mechanistic explanation in the biological sciences. This claim is meant to hold both in principle and in practice. The basic claim is that any explanation of a particular feature of a biological system, including dynamical explanations, must ultimately be grounded in mechanistic explanation. There are several variations on this theme, some stronger and some weaker. In order to avoid equivocation and miscommunication, in section 1 we will (...)
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  48. The Chemical Origin of Life. [REVIEW]R. H. T. - 1965 - Review of Metaphysics 18 (3):589-590.
  49. Pluralists About Pluralism? Versions of Explanatory Pluralism in Psychiatry.Jeroen Van Bouwel - 2014 - In M. C. Galavotti, D. Dieks, W. J. Gonzalez, S. Hartmann, Th Uebel & M. Weber (eds.), New Directions in Philosophy of Science (The Philosophy of Science in a European Perspective Series). Springer. pp. 105-119.
    In this contribution, I comment on Raffaella Campaner’s defense of explanatory pluralism in psychiatry (in this volume). In her paper, Campaner focuses primarily on explanatory pluralism in contrast to explanatory reductionism. Furthermore, she distinguishes between pluralists who consider pluralism to be a temporary state on the one hand and pluralists who consider it to be a persisting state on the other hand. I suggest that it would be helpful to distinguish more than those two versions of pluralism – different understandings (...)
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  50. Questioning Structurism as a New Standard for Social Scientific Explanations.Jeroen Van Bouwel - 2004 - Graduate Journal of Social Science 1 (2):204-226.
    As the literature on Critical Realism in the social sciences is growing, it is about time to analyse whether a new, acceptable standard for social scientific explanations is being introduced. In order to do so, I will discuss the work of Christopher Lloyd, who analysed contributions of social scientists that rely on (what he called) a structurist ontology and a structurist methodology, and advocated a third option in the methodological debate between individualism and holism. I will suggest modifications to three (...)
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