Design principles and mechanistic explanation

History and Philosophy of the Life Sciences 44 (4):1-23 (2022)
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Abstract

In this essay I propose that what design principles in systems biology and systems neuroscience do is to present abstract characterizations of mechanisms, and thereby facilitate mechanistic explanation. To show this, one design principle in systems neuroscience, i.e., the multilayer perceptron, is examined. However, Braillard contends that design principles provide a sort of non-mechanistic explanation due to two related reasons: they are very general and describe non-causal dependence relationships. In response to this, I argue that, on the one hand, all mechanisms are more or less general, and on the other, many design principles are causal systems.

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Citations of this work

Design principles as minimal models.Wei Fang - 2024 - Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part A 105 (C):50-58.

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References found in this work

Explaining the brain: mechanisms and the mosaic unity of neuroscience.Carl F. Craver - 2007 - New York : Oxford University Press,: Oxford University Press, Clarendon Press.
Thinking about mechanisms.Peter Machamer, Lindley Darden & Carl F. Craver - 2000 - Philosophy of Science 67 (1):1-25.
The New Mechanical Philosophy.Stuart Glennan - 2017 - Oxford: Oxford University Press.

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