Flat mechanisms: a reductionist approach to levels in mechanistic explanations

Philosophical Studies 179 (7):2303-2321 (2022)
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Abstract

The mechanistic framework traditionally comes bundled with a multi-level view. Some ascribe ontological weight to these levels, whereas others claim that characterising a higher-level entity and the corresponding lower-level mechanism are only different descriptions of the same thing. The goal of this paper is to develop a consistent metaphysical picture that can underly the latter position. According to this flat view, wholes and their parts are embedded in the same network of interacting units. The flat view preserves the original virtues of the mechanistic approach and is able to avoid the problems associated with the multi-level view.

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Peter Fazekas
University of Antwerp

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