Thinking again about biological mechanisms

Philosophy of Science 75 (5):958-969 (2008)
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The new research program to understand mechanisms in biology has developed rapidly in the last 10 years. Reconsideration of the characterization of mechanisms in biology in the light of this recent work is now in order. This article discusses the perspectival aspect of the characterization of mechanisms, refinements in claims about working entities and kinds of activities, challenges and responses to claims about regularity, productive continuity, and the organizational aspects of a mechanism, and issues about representations of mechanisms in schemas and sketches. †To contact the author, please write to: Committee for Philosophy and the Sciences, Department of Philosophy, 1125A Skinner Building, University of Maryland, College Park, MD 20742 USA; e‐mail: [email protected]



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Lindley Darden
University of Maryland, College Park

Citations of this work

What is a mechanism? Thinking about mechanisms across the sciences.Phyllis Illari & Jon Williamson - 2012 - European Journal for Philosophy of Science 2 (1):119-135.
The Concept of Mechanism in Biology.Daniel J. Nicholson - 2012 - Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part C: Studies in History and Philosophy of Biological and Biomedical Sciences 43 (1):152-163.
What was Hodgkin and Huxley’s Achievement?Arnon Levy - 2013 - British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 65 (3):469-492.
A Field Guide to Mechanisms: Part I.Holly Andersen - 2014 - Philosophy Compass 9 (4):274-283.
Mechanistic explanation without the ontic conception.Cory D. Wright - 2012 - European Journal of Philosophy of Science 2 (3):375-394.

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References found in this work

Explanation: a mechanist alternative.William Bechtel & Adele Abrahamsen - 2005 - Studies in History and Philosophy of Biological and Biomedical Sciences 36 (2):421-441.
Top-down causation without top-down causes.Carl F. Craver & William Bechtel - 2007 - Biology and Philosophy 22 (4):547-563.
Nature's Capacities and Their Measurement.Tim Maudlin & Nancy Cartwright - 1993 - Journal of Philosophy 90 (11):599.
Discovering Cell Mechanisms: The Creation of Modern Cell Biology.William Bechtel - 2007 - Journal of the History of Biology 40 (1):185-187.

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