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  1. Levels in Biological Organisms: Hierarchy of Production Mechanisms, Heterarchy of Control Mechanisms.William Bechtel - 2022 - The Monist 105 (2):156-174.
    Among the notions of levels invoked in accounts of biological phenomena, I focus on two: levels of production mechanisms and levels of control mechanisms. I argue that these two notions of level exhibit different characteristics: production mechanisms are organized hierarchically while control mechanisms are often organized heterarchically. I illustrate the differences in these modes of organization by examining production and control mechanisms involved in cell division in Escherichia coli and in circulation of blood in mammals. I conclude by exploring how (...)
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  • Organization Needs Organization: Understanding Integrated Control in Living Organisms.Leonardo Bich & William Bechtel - 2022 - Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part A 93:96-106.
    Organization figures centrally in the understanding of biological systems advanced by both new mechanists and proponents of the autonomy framework. The new mechanists focus on how components of mechanisms are organized to produce a phenomenon and emphasize productive continuity between these components. The autonomy framework focuses on how the components of a biological system are organized in such a way that they contribute to the maintenance of the organisms that produce them. In this paper we analyze and compare these two (...)
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  • Control Mechanisms: Explaining the Integration and Versatility of Biological Organisms.Leonardo Bich & William Bechtel - 2022 - Adaptive Behavior.
    Living organisms act as integrated wholes to maintain themselves. Individual actions can each be explained by characterizing the mechanisms that perform the activity. But these alone do not explain how various activities are coordinated and performed versatilely. We argue that this depends on a specific type of mechanism, a control mechanism. We develop an account of control by examining several extensively studied control mechanisms operative in the bacterium E. coli. On our analysis, what distinguishes a control mechanism from other mechanisms (...)
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