Mechanisms and psychological explanation

In Paul Thagard (ed.), Handbook of the Philosophy of Psychology and Cognitive Science. Elsevier (2007)
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Abstract

As much as assumptions about mechanisms and mechanistic explanation have deeply affected psychology, they have received disproportionately little analysis in philosophy. After a historical survey of the influences of mechanistic approaches to explanation of psychological phenomena, we specify the nature of mechanisms and mechanistic explanation. Contrary to some treatments of mechanistic explanation, we maintain that explanation is an epistemic activity that involves representing and reasoning about mechanisms. We discuss the manner in which mechanistic approaches serve to bridge levels rather than reduce them, as well as the different ways in which mechanisms are discovered. Finally, we offer a more detailed example of an important psychological phenomenon for which mechanistic explanation has provided the main source of scientific understanding.

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2009-01-28

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Author Profiles

Cory Wright
California State University, Long Beach
William Bechtel
University of California, San Diego

Citations of this work

Levels of organization: a deflationary account.Markus I. Eronen - 2015 - Biology and Philosophy 30 (1):39-58.
Models, Mechanisms, and Coherence.Matteo Colombo, Stephan Hartmann & Robert van Iersel - 2015 - British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 66 (1):181-212.
Mechanistic explanation without the ontic conception.Cory Wright - 2012 - European Journal of Philosophy of Science 2 (3):375-394.
Six Theses on Mechanisms and Mechanistic Science.Stuart Glennan, Phyllis Illari & Erik Weber - 2022 - Journal for General Philosophy of Science / Zeitschrift für Allgemeine Wissenschaftstheorie 53 (2):143-161.

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