In Defense of Methodological Mechanism: The Case of Apoptosis

Axiomathes 27 (6):601-619 (2017)
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This paper advances the thesis of methodological mechanism, the claim that to be committed to mechanism is to adopt a certain methodological postulate, i.e. to look for causal pathways for the phenomena of interest. We argue that methodological mechanism incorporates a minimal account of understanding mechanisms, according to which a mechanism just is a causal pathway described in the language of theory. In order to argue for this position we discuss a central example of a biological mechanism, the mechanism of cell death, known as apoptosis. We argue that this example shows that our philosophically deflationary account is sufficient in order to have an illuminating account of mechanisms as the concept is used in biology.

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Author Profiles

Stathis Psillos
University of Athens
Stavros Ioannidis
University of Athens

Citations of this work

Applying Evidential Pluralism to the Social Sciences.Yafeng Shan & Jon Williamson - 2021 - European Journal for Philosophy of Science 11 (4):1-27.
Putting History Back into Mechanisms.Justin Garson - 2023 - British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 74 (4):921-940.
Six Theses on Mechanisms and Mechanistic Science.Stuart Glennan, Phyllis Illari & Erik Weber - 2022 - Journal for General Philosophy of Science / Zeitschrift für Allgemeine Wissenschaftstheorie 53 (2):143-161.

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References found in this work

Thinking about mechanisms.Peter Machamer, Lindley Darden & Carl F. Craver - 2000 - Philosophy of Science 67 (1):1-25.
The New Mechanical Philosophy.Stuart Glennan - 2017 - Oxford: Oxford University Press.
The cement of the universe.John Leslie Mackie - 1974 - Oxford,: Clarendon Press.
Physical Causation.Phil Dowe - 2000 - New York: Cambridge University Press.

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