Philosophy of Science 75 (5):970-982 (2008)
AbstractChemists take mechanisms to be an important way of explaining chemical change. I examine the usefulness of the mechanism approach in the recent philosophical literature in explicating the explanatory use of mechanisms by organic chemists. I argue that chemists consider a mechanism to be explanatory because it accounts for the “dynamic process of bringing about” (Tabery 2004 , 10) chemical change. For chemists, mechanisms are causal explanations based on interventions that show “how some possibilities depend on others” (Woodward 2003 , 375). Only possibilities are achievable because chemists face a number of challenges when they explain by means of a mechanism. †To contact the author, please write to: Department of Philosophy, Smith College, Northampton, MA 01063; e‐mail: [email protected]
Similar books and articles
Scientific Understanding After the Ingold Revolution in Organic Chemistry.William Goodwin - 2007 - Philosophy of Science 74 (3):386-408.
Explanations of the Evolution of Sex: A Plurality of Local Mechanisms.Carla Fehr - 2006 - In Stephen H. Kellert, Helen E. Longino & C. Kenneth Waters (eds.), Scientific Pluralism, Minnesota Studies in the Philosophy of Science. University of Minnesota Press. pp. 167-189.
Scientific Understanding and Synthetic Design.William Goodwin - 2009 - British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 60 (2):271-301.
Explanation, Unification, and What Chemistry Gets From Causation.Janet D. Stemwedel - 2004 - Philosophy of Science 71 (5):1060-1070.
Added to PP
Historical graph of downloads
Citations of this work
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.
Mechanistic Explanation in Systems Biology: Cellular Networks.Dana Matthiessen - 2017 - British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 68 (1):1-25.
How Mechanisms Explain Interfield Cooperation: Biological–Chemical Study of Plant Growth Hormones in Utrecht and Pasadena, 1930–1938.Caterina Schürch - 2017 - History and Philosophy of the Life Sciences 39 (3):16.
The Manipulation of Chemical Reactions: Probing the Limits of Interventionism.Georgie Statham - 2017 - Synthese 194 (12):4815-4838.
Plausibility Versus Richness in Mechanistic Models.Raoul Gervais & Erik Weber - 2013 - Philosophical Psychology 26 (1):139-152.
References found in this work
The Foundations of Modern Organic Chemistry: The Rise of the Highes and Ingold Theory From 1930–1942. [REVIEW]F. Michael Akeroyd - 2000 - Foundations of Chemistry 2 (2):99-125.