Mechanisms in ecology

In Stuart Glennan & Phyllis McKay Illari (eds.), The Rutledge Handbook of Mechanisms and Mechanical Philosophy. London and New York: pp. 348-361 (2018)

Viorel Pâslaru
University of Dayton
New mechanistic philosophy has not examined explanations in ecology although they are based extensively on describing mechanisms responsible for phenomena under scrutiny. This chapter uses the example of research on the shrub Lonicera maackii (Amur honeysuckle) to scrutinize individual-level mechanisms that are generally accepted and used in ecology and confronts them with the minimal account of mechanisms. Individual-level mechanisms are for a phenomenon, are hierarchical, and absent entities play a role in their functioning. They are distinguished by the role played by properties in determining activities and organization. The chapter also considers the experimental methods for discovery of individual-level mechanisms, the possibility of group-level mechanisms in ecology, and suggests further research problems.
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