Biology and Philosophy 26 (3):365-383 (2011)

Authors
Peter Fazekas
University of Antwerp
Abstract
This paper tracks the commitments of mechanistic explanations focusing on the relation between activities at different levels. It is pointed out that the mechanistic approach is inherently committed to identifying causal connections at higher levels with causal connections at lower levels. For the mechanistic approach to succeed a mechanism as a whole must do the very same thing what its parts organised in a particular way do. The mechanistic approach must also utilise bridge principles connecting different causal terms of different theoretical vocabularies in order to make the identities of causal connections transparent. These general commitments get confronted with two claims made by certain proponents of the mechanistic approach: William Bechtel often argues that within the mechanistic framework it is possible to balance between reducing higher levels and maintaining their autonomy at the same time, whereas, in a recent paper, Craver and Bechtel argue that the mechanistic approach is able to make downward causation intelligible. The paper concludes that the mechanistic approach imbued with identity statements is no better candidate for anchoring higher levels to lower ones while maintaining their autonomy at the same time than standard reductive accounts are, and that what mechanistic explanations are able to do at best is showing that downward causation does not exist
Keywords No keywords specified (fix it)
Categories (categorize this paper)
ISBN(s)
DOI 10.1007/s10539-011-9247-5
Options
Edit this record
Mark as duplicate
Export citation
Find it on Scholar
Request removal from index
Revision history

Download options

PhilArchive copy


Upload a copy of this paper     Check publisher's policy     Papers currently archived: 71,410
Through your library

References found in this work BETA

Thinking About Mechanisms.Peter Machamer, Lindley Darden & Carl F. Craver - 2000 - Philosophy of Science 67 (1):1-25.
Physical Realization.Sydney Shoemaker - 2007 - Oxford University Press UK.
Making Sense of Emergence.Jaegwon Kim - 1999 - Philosophical Studies 95 (1-2):3-36.

View all 39 references / Add more references

Citations of this work BETA

Constitutive Relevance, Mutual Manipulability, and Fat-Handedness.Michael Baumgartner & Alexander Gebharter - 2016 - British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 67 (3):731-756.
Levels of Organization: A Deflationary Account.Markus I. Eronen - 2015 - Biology and Philosophy 30 (1):39-58.

View all 20 citations / Add more citations

Similar books and articles

Mechanistic Explanation at the Limit.Jonathan Waskan - 2011 - Synthese 183 (3):389-408.
How Probabilistic Causation Can Account for the Use of Mechanistic Evidence.Erik Weber - 2009 - International Studies in the Philosophy of Science 23 (3):277-295.
A Glimpse of The.Stathis Psillos - 2004 - Perspectives on Science 12 (3):288-319.

Analytics

Added to PP index
2011-03-16

Total views
143 ( #83,013 of 2,519,860 )

Recent downloads (6 months)
2 ( #270,671 of 2,519,860 )

How can I increase my downloads?

Downloads

My notes