Reconciling Ontic and Epistemic Constraints on Mechanistic Explanation, Epistemically

Axiomathes 25 (1):5-22 (2015)
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Abstract

In this paper I address the current debate on ontic versus epistemic conceptualizations of mechanistic explanation in the mechanisms literature. Illari recently argued that good explanations are subject to both ontic and epistemic constraints: they must describe mechanisms in the world in such fashion that they provide understanding of their workings. Elaborating upon Illari’s ‘integration’ account, I argue that causal role function discovery of mechanisms and their components is an epistemic prerequisite for achieving these two aims. This analysis extends Illari’s account in important ways, putting more pressure on ontic readings of mechanistic explanation and providing an answer to the question how ontic and epistemic constraints on mechanistic explanation are related. I argue these point in terms of cases on memory research drawn from neuroscience and research on extinct neurogenetic mechanisms from early nervous systems biology

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Citations of this work

The ontic conception of scientific explanation.Cory Wright - 2015 - Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part A 54:20-30.
Ontic Explanation Is either Ontic or Explanatory, but Not Both.Cory Wright & Dingmar van Eck - 2018 - Ergo: An Open Access Journal of Philosophy 5:997–1029.
Explanation, Representation and Information.Panagiotis Karadimas - 2024 - Philosophical Problems in Science 74:21-55.

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References found in this work

Explaining the brain: mechanisms and the mosaic unity of neuroscience.Carl F. Craver - 2007 - New York : Oxford University Press,: Oxford University Press, Clarendon Press.
Thinking about mechanisms.Peter Machamer, Lindley Darden & Carl F. Craver - 2000 - Philosophy of Science 67 (1):1-25.
Explanation: a mechanist alternative.William Bechtel & Adele Abrahamsen - 2005 - Studies in History and Philosophy of Biological and Biomedical Sciences 36 (2):421-441.

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