Mechanistic information is used in the field of risk assessment in order to clarify two controversial methodological issues, the selection of inference guides and the definition of standards of evidence. In this paper we present an analysis of the concept of mechanistic information in risk assessment by recurring to previous philosophical analyses of mechanistic explanation. Our conclusion is that the conceptual analysis of mechanistic explanation facilitates a better characterization of the concept of mechanistic information. However, it also shows that the use of this kind of information in risk assessment is heavily influenced by pragmatic factors, which have not been sufficiently taken into account in philosophical analysis. Mechanistic models are like hypothesis that have to be validated empirically. Due to their dependence on the standards of evidence, they are subject to the same pragmatic factors. Therefore, recurring to mechanistic information does not lead to closure of the methodological controversies in risk assessment.
Keywords Mechanistic information  Risk assessment  Mechanistic explanation  Inference guides  Standards of evidence
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DOI 10.1007/s10838-015-9306-8
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Thinking About Mechanisms.Peter Machamer, Lindley Darden & Carl F. Craver - 2000 - Philosophy of Science 67 (1):1-25.
Science, Policy, and the Value-Free Ideal.Heather Douglas - 2009 - University of Pittsburgh Press.

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