Synthese 189 (3):415-432 (2012)

Authors
Holly Andersen
Simon Fraser University
Abstract
How regular do mechanisms need to be, in order to count as mechanisms? This paper addresses two arguments for dropping the requirement of regularity from the definition of a mechanism, one motivated by examples from the sciences and the other motivated by metaphysical considerations regarding causation. I defend a broadened regularity requirement on mechanisms that takes the form of a taxonomy of kinds of regularity that mechanisms may exhibit. This taxonomy allows precise explication of the degree and location of regular operation within a mechanism, and highlights the role that various kinds of regularity play in scientific explanation. I defend this regularity requirement in terms of regularity’s role in individuating mechanisms against a background of other causal processes, and by prioritizing mechanisms’ ability to serve as a model of scientific explanation, rather than as a metaphysical account of causation. It is because mechanisms are regular, in the expanded sense described here, that they are capable of supporting the kinds of generalizations that figure prominently in scientific explanations.
Keywords mechanisms  regularity  explanation  causation
Categories (categorize this paper)
Reprint years 2012
DOI 10.1007/s11229-011-9965-x
Options
Edit this record
Mark as duplicate
Export citation
Find it on Scholar
Request removal from index
Revision history

Download options

References found in this work BETA

Explaining the Brain.Carl F. Craver - 2009 - Oxford University Press.
Thinking About Mechanisms.Peter K. Machamer, Lindley Darden & Carl F. Craver - 2000 - Philosophy of Science 67 (1):1-25.
Explanation: A Mechanist Alternative.William Bechtel - 2005 - Studies in History and Philosophy of Biol and Biomed Sci 36 (2):421--441.

View all 25 references / Add more references

Citations of this work BETA

A Field Guide to Mechanisms: Part I.Holly Andersen - 2014 - Philosophy Compass 9 (4):274-283.
Mechanisms: What Are They Evidence for in Evidence-Based Medicine?Holly Andersen - 2012 - Journal of Evaluation in Clinical Practice 18 (5):992-999.
The Metaphysics of Constitutive Mechanistic Phenomena.Marie I. Kaiser & Beate Krickel - 2016 - British Journal for the Philosophy of Science:axv058.
Mechanistic Explanation Without the Ontic Conception.Cory D. Wright - 2012 - European Journal of Philosophy of Science 2 (3):375-394.

View all 19 citations / Add more citations

Similar books and articles

Mechanisms, Laws, and Regularities.Holly Andersen - 2011 - Philosophy of Science 78 (2):325-331.
Difference Mechanisms: Explaining Variation with Mechanisms.James Tabery - 2009 - Biology and Philosophy 24 (5):645-664.
Seeing Causing.Helen Beebee - 2003 - Proceedings of the Aristotelian Society 103 (3):257-280.
Regularity, Conditionality, and Asymmetry in Causation.Georges Dicker - 2000 - The Proceedings of the Twentieth World Congress of Philosophy 7:129-138.
Mechanisms Are Real and Local.Phyllis McKay Illari & Jon Williamson - 2011 - In Phyllis McKay Illari, Federica Russo & Jon Williamson (eds.), Causality in the Sciences. Oxford University Press.
Explanations in Search of Observations.Robert Sugden - 2011 - Biology and Philosophy 26 (5):717-736.
Two Kinds of Causal Explanation.George Botterill - 2010 - Theoria 76 (4):287-313.

Analytics

Added to PP index
2011-05-30

Total views
592 ( #8,104 of 2,325,396 )

Recent downloads (6 months)
59 ( #9,799 of 2,325,396 )

How can I increase my downloads?

Downloads

My notes