Philosophy of Science 77 (3):317-340 (2010)
AbstractToday, mechanisms and mechanistic explanation are very popular in philosophy of science and are deemed a welcome alternative to laws of nature and deductive‐nomological explanation. Starting from Mitchell's pragmatic notion of laws, I cast doubt on their status as a genuine alternative. I argue that (1) all complex‐systems mechanisms ontologically must rely on stable regularities, while (2) the reverse need not hold. Analogously, (3) models of mechanisms must incorporate pragmatic laws, while (4) such laws themselves need not always refer to underlying mechanisms. Finally, I show that Mitchell's account is more encompassing than the mechanistic account *Received August 2008; revised January 2010. †To contact the author, please write to: Centre for Logic and Philosophy of Science, Ghent University, Blandijnberg 2, B‐9000 Belgium; e‐mail: [email protected]
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References found in this work
Making Things Happen: A Theory of Causal Explanation.James Woodward - 2003 - Oxford University Press.
Aspects of Scientific Explanation and Other Essays in the Philosophy of Science.Carl Gustav Hempel - 1965 - New York: The Free Press.
Thinking About Mechanisms.Peter Machamer, Lindley Darden & Carl F. Craver - 2000 - Philosophy of Science 67 (1):1-25.
Citations of this work
The Ontic Account of Scientific Explanation.Carl F. Craver - 2014 - In Marie I. Kaiser, Oliver R. Scholz, Daniel Plenge & Andreas Hüttemann (eds.), Explanation in the Special Sciences: The Case of Biology and History. Springer Verlag. pp. 27-52.
Three Problems for the Mutual Manipulability Account of Constitutive Relevance in Mechanisms.Bert Leuridan - 2012 - British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 63 (2):399-427.
Mechanisms and Laws: Clarifying the Debate.Marie I. Kaiser & C. F. Craver - 2013 - In H.-K. Chao, S.-T. Chen & R. Millstein (eds.), Mechanism and Causality in Biology and Economics. Dordrecht: Springer. pp. 125-145.
New Mechanistic Explanation and the Need for Explanatory Constraints.L. R. Franklin-Hall - 2016 - In Ken Aizawa & Carl Gillett (eds.), Scientific Composition and Metaphysical Ground. Palgrave. pp. 41-74.
The Case for Regularity in Mechanistic Causal Explanation.Holly Andersen - 2012 - Synthese 189 (3):415-432.
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