Jon Williamson
University of Kent
Phyllis Illari
University College London
In this paper, we examine what is to be said in defence of Machamer, Darden and Craver’s (MDC) controversial dualism about activities and entities (Machamer, Darden and Craver’s in Philos Sci 67:1–25, 2000). We explain why we believe the notion of an activity to be a novel, valuable one, and set about clearing away some initial objections that can lead to its being brushed aside unexamined. We argue that substantive debate about ontology can only be effective when desiderata for an ontology are explicitly articulated. We distinguish three such desiderata. The first is a more permissive descriptive ontology of science, the second a more reductive ontology prioritising understanding, and the third a more reductive ontology prioritising minimalism. We compare MDC’s entities-activities ontology to its closest rival, the entities-capacities ontology, and argue that the entities-activities ontology does better on all three desiderata
Keywords Activities  MDC  Machamer, Darden and Craver  Capacities  Ontology  Metaphysics of science  Understanding  Minimalism
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DOI 10.1007/s10838-013-9217-5
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Counterfactuals.David K. Lewis - 1973 - Blackwell.

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Function and Organization: Comparing the Mechanisms of Protein Synthesis and Natural Selection.Phyllis McKay Illari & Jon Williamson - 2010 - Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part C: Studies in History and Philosophy of Biological and Biomedical Sciences 41 (3):279-291.
Making Sense of Interlevel Causation in Mechanisms From a Metaphysical Perspective.Beate Krickel - 2017 - Journal for General Philosophy of Science / Zeitschrift für Allgemeine Wissenschaftstheorie 48 (3):453-468.
On Closing the Gap Between Philosophical Concepts and Their Usage in Scientific Practice: A Lesson From the Debate About Natural Selection as a Mechanism.Lucas J. Matthews - 2016 - Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part C: Studies in History and Philosophy of Biological and Biomedical Sciences 55:21-28.
Autopoiesis, Biological Autonomy and the Process View of Life.Anne Meincke - 2018 - European Journal for Philosophy of Science 9 (1):5.

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