Ecological explanation between manipulation and mechanism description

Philosophy of Science 76 (5):821-837 (2009)
  Copy   BIBTEX

Abstract

James Woodward offers a conception of explanation and mechanism in terms of interventionist counterfactuals. Based on a case from ecology, I show that ecologists’ approach to that case satisfies Woodward’s conditions for explanation and mechanism, but his conception does not fully capture what ecologists view as explanatory. The new mechanistic philosophy likewise aims to describe central aspects of mechanisms, but I show that it is not sufficient to account for ecological mechanisms. I argue that in ecology explanation involves identification of invariant and insensitive causal relationships and descriptions of the mechanistic characteristics that make these relations possible. †To contact the author, please write to: Department of Philosophy, University of Dayton, 300 College Park, Dayton, OH 45469‐1546; e‐mail: [email protected].

Links

PhilArchive



    Upload a copy of this work     Papers currently archived: 91,252

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

Mechanistic explanation at the limit.Jonathan Waskan - 2011 - Synthese 183 (3):389-408.
Causal and Mechanistic Explanations in Ecology.Jani Raerinne - 2010 - Acta Biotheoretica 59 (3):251-271.
How does it work?: The search for explanatory mechanisms.Mario Bunge - 2004 - Philosophy of the Social Sciences 34 (2):182-210.
Constitutive Explanatory Relevance.Carl Craver - 2007 - Journal of Philosophical Research 32:3-20.
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.

Analytics

Added to PP
2010-02-17

Downloads
103 (#164,414)

6 months
12 (#183,686)

Historical graph of downloads
How can I increase my downloads?

Author's Profile

Viorel Pâslaru
University of Dayton

Citations of this work

Three kinds of new mechanism.Arnon Levy - 2013 - Biology and Philosophy 28 (1):99-114.
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.
Causal and Mechanistic Explanations in Ecology.Jani Raerinne - 2010 - Acta Biotheoretica 59 (3):251-271.
The mechanistic approach of The Theory of Island Biogeography and its current relevance.Viorel Pâslaru - 2014 - Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part C: Studies in History and Philosophy of Biological and Biomedical Sciences 45 (1):22-33.

Add more citations

References found in this work

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.
What is a mechanism? A counterfactual account.Jim Woodward - 2002 - Proceedings of the Philosophy of Science Association 2002 (3):S366-S377.
Discovering Cell Mechanisms: The Creation of Modern Cell Biology.William Bechtel - 2007 - Journal of the History of Biology 40 (1):185-187.
Modeling mechanisms.Stuart Glennan - 2005 - Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part C: Studies in History and Philosophy of Biological and Biomedical Sciences 36 (2):443-464.

View all 8 references / Add more references