Constitutive Explanatory Relevance

In what sense are the activities and properties of components in a mechanism explanatorily relevant to the behavior of a mechanism as a whole? I articulate this problem, the problem of constitutive relevance, and I show that it must be solved if we are to understand mechanisms and mechanistic explanation. I argue against some putative solutions to the problem of constitutive relevance, and I sketch a positive account according to which relevance is analyzed in terms ofrelationships of mutual manipulability between the behavior of a mechanism as a whole and the properties and activities of its components. My account is a causal-mechanical account in the sense that it is a particular expression of the idea that constitutive explanation is a matter of showing how an explanandum phenomenon is situated within the causal structure of the world. It is thus offered as a rival to epistemic (argument-centered) and psychological accounts of interlevel explanation
Keywords Contemporary Philosophy  General Interest
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ISBN(s) 1053-8364
DOI 10.5840/jpr20073241
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A Formal Framework for Representing Mechanisms?Alexander Gebharter - 2014 - Philosophy of Science 81 (1):138-153.
Constitutive Relevance, Mutual Manipulability, and Fat-Handedness.Michael Baumgartner & Alexander Gebharter - 2016 - British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 67 (3):731-756.
How to Demarcate the Boundaries of Cognition.David Michael Kaplan - 2012 - Biology and Philosophy 27 (4):545-570.

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