Philosophy of Science 83 (5):686-697 (2016)

Authors
Gualtiero Piccinini
University of Missouri, St. Louis
Trey Boone
Duke University
Abstract
We provide an explicit taxonomy of legitimate kinds of abstraction within constitutive explanation. We argue that abstraction is an inherent aspect of adequate mechanistic explanation. Mechanistic explanations—even ideally complete ones—typically involve many kinds of abstraction and therefore do not require maximal detail. Some kinds of abstraction play the ontic role of identifying the specific complex components, subsets of causal powers, and organizational relations that produce a suitably general phenomenon. Therefore, abstract constitutive explanations are both legitimate and mechanistic.
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DOI 10.1086/687855
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