Difference mechanisms


In recent years, philosophers of science have found a renewed interest in mechanisms. The motivation is the thought that the elucidation of a mechanism generates a causal explanation for the phenomenon under investigation. For example, a question such as, How do rats form spatial memories of their environments?, is answered by elucidating the regular causal mechanisms responsible for the individual development of spatial memory in rats. But consider a slightly different question: How do some rats come to have better spatial memory than other rats? This is a question about the causes of variation responsible for variation in spatial memory. The first question demands an answer about regularity; the second question demands an answer about variation. The account of causal-mechanical explanation on offer by philosophers of science captures regularity, but it neglects variation. In this essay, I attempt to modify the mechanical program so as to incorporate both regularity and variation. The task is to explicate the relationship between the regular causal mechanisms responsible for individual development and the causes of variation responsible for variation in populations. As it turns out, this is precisely the relationship that has divided the biometric research tradition and the developmental research tradition in the long-standing debates over genotype-environment interaction, or G×E. Ultimately, the product will be an account of causal-mechanical explanation that captures both regularity and variation, and which may be utilized to resolve an aspect of the debates over G×E.



    Upload a copy of this work     Papers currently archived: 91,386

External links

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

Through your library

  • Only published works are available at libraries.

Similar books and articles

Role functions, mechanisms, and hierarchy.Carl F. Craver - 2001 - Philosophy of Science 68 (1):53-74.
Mechanisms, Laws, and Regularities.Holly K. Andersen - 2011 - Philosophy of Science 78 (2):325-331.
Aristotle on the Mechanisms of Inheritance.Devin Henry - 2006 - Journal of the History of Biology 39 (3):425-455.
Nongenetic selection and nongenetic inheritance.Matteo Mameli - 2004 - British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 55 (1):35-71.
Darwin on Variation and Heredity.Rasmus Grønfeldt Winther - 2000 - Journal of the History of Biology 33 (3):425-455.
Difference mechanisms: Explaining variation with mechanisms.James Tabery - 2009 - Biology and Philosophy 24 (5):645-664.


Added to PP

38 (#409,607)

6 months
10 (#251,846)

Historical graph of downloads
How can I increase my downloads?

Author's Profile

James Tabery
University of Utah

Citations of this work

Mechanistic and Neo-mechanistic Accounts of Causation: How Salmon Already Got (Much of) It Right.Raffaella Campaner - 2013 - Metatheoria – Revista de Filosofía E Historia de la Ciencia 3:81--98.

Add more citations

References found in this work

No references found.

Add more references