Authors
John Matthewson
Massey University
Abstract
This article is about the role of abstraction in mechanistic explanations. Abstraction is widely recognised as a necessary concession to the practicalities of scientific work, but some mechanist philosophers argue that it is also a positive explanatory feature in its own right. I claim that in as much as these arguments are based on the idea that mechanistic explanation exhibits a trade-off between fine-grained detail and generality, they are unsuccessful. Detail and generality both appear to be important sources of explanatory power, but investigators do not need to make a choice between these desiderata, at least when an explanation incorporates further detail through the decomposition of the mechanism's parts.
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DOI 10.1016/j.shpsa.2018.06.001
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