Rethinking mechanistic explanation

Authors
Stuart Glennan
Butler University
Abstract
Philosophers of science typically associate the causal-mechanical view of scientific explanation with the work of Railton and Salmon. In this paper I shall argue that the defects of this view arise from an inadequate analysis of the concept of mechanism. I contrast Salmon's account of mechanisms in terms of the causal nexus with my own account of mechanisms, in which mechanisms are viewed as complex systems. After describing these two concepts of mechanism, I show how the complex-systems approach avoids certain objections to Salmon's account of causal-mechanical explanation. I conclude by discussing how mechanistic explanations can provide understanding by unification
Keywords No keywords specified (fix it)
Categories (categorize this paper)
DOI 10.1086/341857
Options
Edit this record
Mark as duplicate
Export citation
Find it on Scholar
Request removal from index
Revision history

Download options

Our Archive


Upload a copy of this paper     Check publisher's policy     Papers currently archived: 33,094
Through your library

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.
Explanatory Unification.Philip Kitcher - 1981 - Philosophy of Science 48 (4):507-531.

View all 12 references / Add more references

Citations of this work BETA

Explanation: A Mechanist Alternative.William Bechtel - 2005 - Studies in History and Philosophy of Biol and Biomed Sci 36 (2):421--441.
When Mechanistic Models Explain.Carl F. Craver - 2006 - Synthese 153 (3):355-376.
What is a Mechanism? Thinking About Mechanisms Across the Sciences.Phyllis Illari & Jon Williamson - 2012 - European Journal for Philosophy of Science 2 (1):119-135.

View all 158 citations / Add more citations

Similar books and articles

Analytics

Added to PP index
2009-01-28

Total downloads
133 ( #42,660 of 2,241,478 )

Recent downloads (6 months)
8 ( #49,045 of 2,241,478 )

How can I increase my downloads?

Monthly downloads

My notes

Sign in to use this feature