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  1. What is a Mechanism? Thinking About Mechanisms Across the Sciences.Phyllis Illari & Jon Williamson - 2012 - European Journal for Philosophy of Science 2 (1):119-135.
    After a decade of intense debate about mechanisms, there is still no consensus characterization. In this paper we argue for a characterization that applies widely to mechanisms across the sciences. We examine and defend our disagreements with the major current contenders for characterizations of mechanisms. Ultimately, we indicate that the major contenders can all sign up to our characterization.
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  • An Ontic Account of Explanatory Reduction in Biology.Marie I. Kaiser - 2012 - Köln: Kölner Hochschulschriften.
    Convincing disputes about explanatory reductionism in the philosophy of biology require a clear and precise understanding of what a reductive explanation in biology is. The central aim of this book is to provide such an account by revealing the features that determine the reductive character of a biological explanation. Chapters I-IV provide the ground, on which I can then, in Chapter V, develop my own account of explanatory reduction in biology: Chapter I reveals the meta-philosophical assumptions that underlie my analysis (...)
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  • ‘Genetic Coding’ Reconsidered: An Analysis of Actual Usage.Ulrich E. Stegmann - 2016 - British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 67 (3):707-730.
    This article reconsiders the theoretical role of the genetic code. By drawing on published and unpublished sources from the 1950s, I analyse how the code metaphor was actually employed by the scientists who first promoted its use. The analysis shows that the term ‘code’ picked out mechanism sketches, consisting of more or less detailed descriptions of ordinary molecular components, processes, and structural properties of the mechanism of protein synthesis. The sketches provided how-possibly explanations for the ordering of amino acids by (...)
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  • The Concept of Mechanism in Biology.Daniel J. Nicholson - 2012 - Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part C 43 (1):152-163.
    The concept of mechanism in biology has three distinct meanings. It may refer to a philosophical thesis about the nature of life and biology (‘mechanicism’), to the internal workings of a machine-like structure (‘machine mechanism’), or to the causal explanation of a particular phenomenon (‘causal mechanism’). In this paper I trace the conceptual evolution of ‘mechanism’ in the history of biology, and I examine how the three meanings of this term have come to be featured in the philosophy of biology, (...)
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  • Causal Graphs and Biological Mechanisms.Alexander Gebharter & Marie I. Kaiser - 2014 - In Marie I. Kaiser, Oliver Scholz, Daniel Plenge & Andreas Hüttemann (eds.), Explanation in the special sciences: The case of biology and history. Dordrecht: Springer. pp. 55-86.
    Modeling mechanisms is central to the biological sciences – for purposes of explanation, prediction, extrapolation, and manipulation. A closer look at the philosophical literature reveals that mechanisms are predominantly modeled in a purely qualitative way. That is, mechanistic models are conceived of as representing how certain entities and activities are spatially and temporally organized so that they bring about the behavior of the mechanism in question. Although this adequately characterizes how mechanisms are represented in biology textbooks, contemporary biological research practice (...)
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  • The Metaphysics of Constitutive Mechanistic Phenomena.Marie I. Kaiser & Beate Krickel - 2016 - British Journal for the Philosophy of Science:axv058.
    The central aim of this article is to specify the ontological nature of constitutive mechanistic phenomena. After identifying three criteria of adequacy that any plausible approach to constitutive mechanistic phenomena must satisfy, we present four different suggestions, found in the mechanistic literature, of what mechanistic phenomena might be. We argue that none of these suggestions meets the criteria of adequacy. According to our analysis, constitutive mechanistic phenomena are best understood as what we will call ‘object-involving occurrents’. Furthermore, on the basis (...)
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  • The Components and Boundaries of Mechanisms.Marie I. Kaiser - 2017 - In S. Glennan & P. Illari (eds.), The Routledge Handbook of Mechanisms and Mechanical Philosophy. New York, USA: Routledge.
    Mechanisms are said to consist of two kinds of components, entities and activities. In the first half of this chapter, I examine what entities and activities are, how they relate to well-known ontological categories, such as processes or dispositions, and how entities and activities relate to each other (e.g., can one be reduced to the other or are they mutually dependent?). The second part of this chapter analyzes different criteria for individuating the components of mechanisms and discusses how real the (...)
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  • Functional Decomposition: On Rationality and Incommensurability in Engineering.D. Van Eck - unknown
    The concept of technical function is a key concept to describe technical artifacts and artifacts-to-be-designed. Engineers often give such descriptions in terms of functional decomposition models, which represent relationships between functions and sets of other functions. Despite the importance of the concept of function there is no consensus among engineers about its meaning. Models of functional decomposition are likewise conceptually divergent. Although this conceptual diversity hampers information exchange between engineers, they accept and maintain it. Engineers do not, by and large, (...)
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  • Expectations-Based Processes – An Interventionist Account of Economic Practice: Putting the Direct Practice of Economics on the Agenda of Philosophy of Economics.Leonardo Ivarola, Gustavo Marques & Diego Weisman - 2013 - Economic Thought 2 (2):20.
    The paper starts by distinguishing between two kinds of economic practice: theoretical economic practice and direct economic practice. Most of the epistemological and philosophical considerations have been directed to the first type of practice, one of whose main goals is the discovery of particular sorts of economic laws, mechanisms and other regularities which throw light on relevant economic patterns. We do not deny that in some restricted domains these kinds of regularities may be found. Rather, we claim that the realm (...)
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  • The Metaphysics of Constitutive Mechanistic Phenomena.Marie I. Kaiser & Beate Krickel - 2017 - British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 68 (3):745-779.
    ABSTRACT The central aim of this article is to specify the ontological nature of constitutive mechanistic phenomena. After identifying three criteria of adequacy that any plausible approach to constitutive mechanistic phenomena must satisfy, we present four different suggestions, found in the mechanistic literature, of what mechanistic phenomena might be. We argue that none of these suggestions meets the criteria of adequacy. According to our analysis, constitutive mechanistic phenomena are best understood as what we will call ‘object-involving occurrents’. Furthermore, on the (...)
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  • Biological Mechanisms: A Case Study in Conceptual Plasticity.Alexander Powell - unknown
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  • A Weakened Mechanism is Still a Mechanism: On the Causal Role of Absences in Mechanistic Explanation.Alexander Mebius - 2014 - Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part C: Studies in History and Philosophy of Biological and Biomedical Sciences 45:43-48.
    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 additional types (...)
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  • On Molecular Mechanisms and Contexts of Physical Explanation.Giovanni Boniolo - 2013 - Biological Theory 7 (3):256-265.
    In this article, two issues regarding mechanisms are discussed. The first concerns the relationships between “mechanism description” and “mechanism explanation.” It is proposed that it is rather plausible to think of them as two distinct epistemic acts. The second deals with the different molecular biology explanatory contexts, and it is shown that some of them require physics and its laws.
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  • A Weakened Mechanism is Still a Mechanism: On the Causal Role of Absences in Mechanistic Explanation.Alexander Mebius - 2013 - Studies in History and Philosophy of Biological and Biomedical Sciences 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 additional types (...)
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  • A Refinement to the General Mechanistic Account.Eric Nelson Hatleback & Jonathan M. Spring - 2019 - European Journal for Philosophy of Science 9 (2):19.
    Phyllis Illari and Jon Williamson propose a formulation for a general mechanistic account, the purpose of which is to capture the similarities across mechanistic accounts in the sciences. Illari and Williamson extract insight from mechanisms in astrophysics—which are notably different from the typical biological mechanisms discussed in the literature on mechanisms—to show how their general mechanistic account accommodates mechanisms across various sciences. We present argumentation that demonstrates why an amendment is necessary to the ontology referred to by the general mechanistic (...)
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  • In Defence of Activities.Phyllis Illari & Jon Williamson - 2013 - Journal for General Philosophy of Science / Zeitschrift für Allgemeine Wissenschaftstheorie 44 (1):69-83.
    In this paper, we examine what is to be said in defence of Machamer, Darden and Craver’s (MDC) controversial dualism about activities and entities (Machamer, Darden and Craver’s in Philos Sci 67:1–25, 2000). We explain why we believe the notion of an activity to be a novel, valuable one, and set about clearing away some initial objections that can lead to its being brushed aside unexamined. We argue that substantive debate about ontology can only be effective when desiderata for an (...)
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