Philosophy of Science 82 (5):1139-1151 (2015)

Authors
Derek Skillings
University of North Carolina, Greensboro
Abstract
Biological processes are often explained by identifying the underlying mechanisms that generate a phenomenon of interest. I characterize a basic account of mechanistic explanation and then present three challenges to this account, illustrated with examples from molecular biology. The basic mechanistic account is insufficient for explaining nonsequential and nonlinear dynamic processes, is insufficient for explaining the inherently stochastic nature of many biological mechanisms, and fails to give a proper framework for analyzing organization. I suggest that biological processes are best approached as a multidimensional gradient—with some processes being paradigmatic cases of mechanisms and some being marginal cases
Keywords No keywords specified (fix it)
Categories (categorize this paper)
DOI 10.1086/683446
Options
Edit this record
Mark as duplicate
Export citation
Find it on Scholar
Request removal from index
Revision history

Download options

PhilArchive copy


Upload a copy of this paper     Check publisher's policy     Papers currently archived: 65,599
External links

Setup an account with your affiliations in order to access resources via your University's proxy server
Configure custom proxy (use this if your affiliation does not provide a proxy)
Through your library

References found in this work BETA

No references found.

Add more references

Citations of this work BETA

Idealization and Abstraction: Refining the Distinction.Arnon Levy - 2018 - Synthese 198 (Suppl 24):5855-5872.
Causal Concepts in Biology: How Pathways Differ From Mechanisms and Why It Matters.Lauren N. Ross - 2021 - British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 72 (1):131-158.
Biology Meets Physics: Reductionism and Multi-Scale Modeling of Morphogenesis.Sara Green & Robert Batterman - 2017 - Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part C: Studies in History and Philosophy of Biological and Biomedical Sciences 7161:20-34.

View all 7 citations / Add more citations

Similar books and articles

What Mechanisms Can’T Do: Explanatory Frameworks and the Function of the P53 Gene in Molecular Oncology.Alessandro Blasimme, Paolo Maugeri & Pierre-Luc Germain - 2013 - Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part C: Studies in History and Philosophy of Biological and Biomedical Sciences 44 (3):374-384.
Jacques Monod's Scientific Analysis and Its Reductionistic Interpretation.Spas Spassov - 1992 - PSA: Proceedings of the Biennial Meeting of the Philosophy of Science Association 1992:329 - 334.
Mechanistic Information and Causal Continuity.Jim Bogen & Peter Machamer - 2010 - In Phyllis McKay Illari, Federica Russo & Jon Williamson (eds.), Causality in the Sciences. Oxford University Press.
Modeling Lung Branching Morphogenesis.Takashi Miura - 2013 - Biological Theory 8 (3):265-273.
Mechanisms Are Real and Local.Phyllis McKay Illari & Jon Williamson - 2011 - In Phyllis McKay Illari, Federica Russo & Jon Williamson (eds.), Causality in the Sciences. Oxford University Press.
The Causal Structure of Mechanisms.Peter Menzies - 2012 - Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part C: Studies in History and Philosophy of Biological and Biomedical Sciences 43 (4):796-805.

Analytics

Added to PP index
2015-12-08

Total views
31 ( #357,491 of 2,462,228 )

Recent downloads (6 months)
2 ( #299,023 of 2,462,228 )

How can I increase my downloads?

Downloads

My notes