Interventionist Omissions: A Critical Case Study of Mechanistic Explanation in Biology

Philosophy of Science 83 (5):1082-1097 (2016)
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It is widely assumed that mechanistic explanations are causal explanations. Many prominent new mechanists endorse interventionism as the correct analysis of explanatory causal models in biology and other fields. This article argues that interventionism is not entirely satisfactory in this regard. A case study of Jacob and Monod’s operon model shows that at least some important mechanistic explanations in biology present significant contrasts with the interventionist account. This result motivates a more inclusive approach to mechanistic explanation, allowing for noncausal aspects.



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Melinda Bonnie Fagan
University of Utah

References found in this work

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.
Rethinking mechanistic explanation.Stuart Glennan - 2002 - Proceedings of the Philosophy of Science Association 2002 (3):S342-353.

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