Authors
Stavros Ioannidis
University of Athens
Stathis Psillos
University of Athens
Abstract
In this paper we offer a minimal characterisation of the concept of mechanism in biomedicine, according to which a mechanism is a theoretically described causal pathway. We argue that this conceptionan be drawn from scientific practice, as illustrated by how a central biological and biomedical mechanism, the mechanism of apoptosis, was first identified and characterised. We will use the example of cytological and biochemical theoretical descriptions of the mechanism of apoptosis to draw lessons about the meaning of the concept of mechanism in biomedical contexts and to contrast our preferred account of mechanism with some prominent accounts within the philosophical literature. The main outcome of our discussion will be that commitment to mechanism is first and foremost a methodological stance.
Keywords apoptosis  causal pathway  mechanism  mechanistic explanation  methodological mechanism  philosophy of medicine
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DOI 10.1111/jep.12971
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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.
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.
What is a Mechanism? A Counterfactual Account.Jim Woodward - 2002 - Proceedings of the Philosophy of Science Association 2002 (3):S366-S377.
What Is a Mechanism? A Counterfactual Account.Jim Woodward - 2002 - Philosophy of Science 69 (S3):S366-S377.
Physical Causation.Phil Dowe - 2002 - Erkenntnis 56 (2):258-263.

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