Mechanisms without mechanistic explanation

Synthese 196 (6):2323-2340 (2019)
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Abstract

Some recent accounts of constitutive relevance have identified mechanism components with entities that are causal intermediaries between the input and output of a mechanism. I argue that on such accounts there is no distinctive inter-level form of mechanistic explanation and that this highlights an absence in the literature of a compelling argument that there are such explanations. Nevertheless, the entities that these accounts call ‘components’ do play an explanatory role. Studying causal intermediaries linking variables Xand Y provides knowledge of the counterfactual conditions under which X will continue to bring about Y. This explanatory role does not depend on whether intermediate variables count as components. The question of whether there are distinctively mechanistic explanations remains open.

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Author's Profile

Naftali Weinberger
Tilburg Center For Logic, Ethics, And Philosophy Of Science (TiLPS - Tilburg University)

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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.
Explanation: A Mechanist Alternative.William Bechtel & Adele Abrahamsen - 2005 - Studies in History and Philosophy of Biological and Biomedical Sciences 36 (2):421-441.
Top-Down Causation Without Top-Down Causes.Carl F. Craver & William Bechtel - 2007 - Biology and Philosophy 22 (4):547-563.

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