Carl F. Craver and Lindley Darden. In Search of Mechanisms: Discoveries across the Life Sciences. [Book Review]

Hopos: The Journal of the International Society for the History of Philosophy of Science 5 (1):180-83 (2015)
  Copy   BIBTEX


Carl F. Craver and Lindley Darden’s new book, In Search of Mechanisms: Discoveries across the Life Sciences, is a fantastic and lucid introduction to the “new mechanism” tradition in the philosophy of science. Over the last 2 decades, but particularly since the turn of the century, this has become an influential framework for thinking about core problems in the history and philosophy of science, with a strong emphasis on biology. There are at least four major aims. First, the new mechanism tradition purports to resolve conventional problems in the philosophy of science, such as the nature of explanation, theory evaluation, reduction, the unity of science, and the levels of the scientific hierarchy. Second, it constitutes what Karl Popper called a Logik der Forschung: a set of maxims and precepts to propel the process of scientific discovery itself. This emphasis on the process of discovery distinguishes the tradition from much of twentieth-century philosophy of science, with its emphasis on the logic of justification. Third, the new mechanism tradition, at least in Craver and Darden’s view, recommends a certain historiographical framework for organizing the history of biology, a framework that depicts the history of biology primarily as a search for mechanisms. Fourth, it constitutes a fundamental metaphysics—a picture of what the physical world is like, in which entities possess various properties, which allow them to have various powers and which are organized in such a way as to give rise to observable phenomena. As the authors provocatively conclude, “nothing in biology makes any sense without the idea that biologists are searching for mechanisms” (202). I do not know whether the authors are correct in their assessment, but this book certainly demonstrates the scope of their ambitions.



    Upload a copy of this work     Papers currently archived: 77,697

External links

Setup an account with your affiliations in order to access resources via your University's proxy server

Through your library

Similar books and articles

Thinking about mechanisms.Peter Machamer, Lindley Darden & Carl F. Craver - 2000 - Philosophy of Science 67 (1):1-25.
Making mechanism interesting.Alex Rosenberg - 2018 - Synthese 195 (1):11-33.
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.
Discovering mechanisms in neurobiology: The case of spatial memory.Carl F. Craver & Lindley Darden - 2001 - In P.K. Machamer, Rick Grush & Peter McLaughlin (eds.), Theory and Method in Neuroscience. Pittsburgh: University of Pitt Press. pp. 112--137.
Thinking again about biological mechanisms.Lindley Darden - 2008 - Philosophy of Science 75 (5):958-969.


Added to PP

39 (#305,780)

6 months
1 (#481,005)

Historical graph of downloads
How can I increase my downloads?

Author's Profile

Justin Garson
Hunter College (CUNY)

Citations of this work

No citations found.

Add more citations

References found in this work

No references found.

Add more references