Abstract
In this paper I apply the mechanistic account of explanation to engineering science. I discuss two ways in which this extension offers further development of the mechanistic view. First, functional individuation of mechanisms in engineering science proceeds by means of two distinct sub types of role function, behavior function and effect function, rather than role function simpliciter. Second, it offers refined assessment of the explanatory power of mechanistic explanations. It is argued that in the context of malfunction explanations of technical systems, two key desiderata for mechanistic explanations, ‘completeness and specificity’ and ‘abstraction’, pull in opposite directions. I elaborate a novel explanatory desideratum to accommodate this explanatory context, dubbed ‘local specificity and global abstraction’, and further argue that it also holds for mechanistic explanations of malfunctions in the biological domain. The overall result is empirically-informed understanding of mechanistic explanation in engineering science, thus contributing to the ongoing project of understanding mechanistic explanation in novel or relatively unexplored domains. I illustrate these claims in terms of reverse engineering and malfunction explanations in engineering science
Keywords Mechanistic explanation  Engineering science  Mechanistic role function  Behavior function  Effect function  Explanatory power
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DOI 10.1007/s13194-015-0111-3
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References found in this work BETA

Thinking About Mechanisms.Peter K. Machamer, Lindley Darden & Carl F. Craver - 2000 - Philosophy of Science 67 (1):1-25.
Explanation: A Mechanist Alternative.William Bechtel - 2005 - Studies in History and Philosophy of Biol and Biomed Sci 36 (2):421--441.

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Citations of this work BETA

Difference Making, Explanatory Relevance, and Mechanistic Models.Dingmar van Eck & Raoul Gervais - 2016 - Theoria: Revista de Teoría, Historia y Fundamentos de la Ciencia 31 (1):125-134.

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