Philosophy of Science 80 (3):317-333 (2013)

Authors
Justin Garson
Hunter College (CUNY)
Abstract
This article presents a distinct sense of ‘mechanism’, which I call the functional sense of mechanism. According to this sense, mechanisms serve functions, and this fact places substantive restrictions on the kinds of system activities ‘for which’ there can be a mechanism. On this view, there are no mechanisms for pathology; pathologies result from disrupting mechanisms for functions. Second, on this sense, natural selection is probably not a mechanism for evolution because it does not serve a function. After distinguishing this sense fromsimilar explications of ‘mechanism’, I argue that it is ubiquitous in biology and has valuable epistemic benefits.
Keywords Mechanisms  Biological Functions  Philosophy of Biology
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DOI 10.1086/671173
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References found in this work BETA

Thinking About Mechanisms.Peter K. Machamer, Lindley Darden & Carl F. Craver - 2000 - Philosophy of Science 67 (1):1-25.
Functional Analysis.Robert Cummins - 1975 - Journal of Philosophy 72 (November):741-64.

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Citations of this work BETA

Evolution, Dysfunction, and Disease: A Reappraisal: Table 1.Paul E. Griffiths & John Matthewson - 2018 - British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 69 (2):301-327.
Computation in Physical Systems.Gualtiero Piccinini - 2010 - Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy.
A Weakened Mechanism is Still a Mechanism: On the Causal Role of Absences in Mechanistic Explanation.Alexander Mebius - 2013 - Studies in History and Philosophy of Biological and Biomedical Sciences 45 (1):43-48.

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