Mechanism or Bust? Explanation in Psychology

British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 68 (4):1037-1059 (2017)
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ABSTRACT Proponents of mechanistic explanation have recently suggested that all explanation in the cognitive sciences is mechanistic, even functional explanation. This last claim is surprising, for functional explanation has traditionally been conceived as autonomous from the structural details that mechanistic explanations emphasize. I argue that functional explanation remains autonomous from mechanistic explanation, but not for reasons commonly associated with the phenomenon of multiple realizability. 1Introduction 2Mechanistic Explanation: A Quick Primer 3Functional Explanation: An Example 4Autonomy as Lack of Constraint 5The Price of Autonomy 6Another Argument against Autonomy 7Conclusion: Autonomy and Multiple Realization



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Lawrence Shapiro
University of Wisconsin, Madison

References found in this work

Thinking about mechanisms.Peter Machamer, Lindley Darden & Carl F. Craver - 2000 - Philosophy of Science 67 (1):1-25.
Explaining the Brain.Carl F. Craver - 2007 - Oxford, GB: Oxford University Press.
Functional analysis.Robert E. Cummins - 1975 - Journal of Philosophy 72 (November):741-64.

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