Mechanistic explanation and the nature-nurture controversy

Bulletin d'Histoire Et d'pistmologie Des Sciences de La Vie 12:75-100 (2005)
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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 actually explaining development. When biologists and psychologists do take up the question of development, they find themselves confronted with two polarizing positions of nativism and empiricism. However, the mechanistic framework, insofar as it emphasizes organization and recognizes the potential for self-organization, does in fact provide the resources for an account of development which avoids the nativism-empiricism dichotomy.



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William Bechtel
University of California, San Diego

References found in this work

The Adapted Mind: Evolutionary Psychology and the Generation of Culture.Jerome H. Barkow, Leda Cosmides & John Tooby - 1992 - Oxford University Press. Edited by Jerome H. Barkow, Leda Cosmides & John Tooby.
Thinking about mechanisms.Peter Machamer, Lindley Darden & Carl F. Craver - 2000 - Philosophy of Science 67 (1):1-25.
Rules and representations.Noam A. Chomsky - 1980 - Behavioral and Brain Sciences 3 (127):1-61.
The Language of Thought.J. A. Fodor - 1978 - Critica 10 (28):140-143.

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