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Mechanistic Explanation:Its Scope and Limits

Woodward, James (2013) Mechanistic Explanation:Its Scope and Limits. Aristotelian Society Supplementary Volume, 87 (1). pp. 39-65.

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Abstract

This paper, part of an Aristotelian Society (2013) symposium with John Dupre, explores the question of whether all or most explanations in biology are, or ideally should be, ‘mechanistic’. I begin by providing an account of mechanistic explanation, making use of the interventionist ideas about causation I have developed elsewhere. This account emphasizes the way in which mechanistic explanations, at least in the biological sciences, integrate difference-making and spatio-temporal information, and exhibit what I call fine-tunedness of organization. I also emphasize the role played by modularity conditions in mechanistic explanation. I will then argue, in agreement with Dupré, that, given this account, it is plausible that many biological systems require explanations that are relatively non-mechanical or depart from expectations one associates with the behaviour of machines


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Item Type: Published Article or Volume
Creators:
CreatorsEmailORCID
Woodward, Jamesjfw@pitt.edu
Keywords: causation. mechanism, modularity, explanation in biology
Subjects: Specific Sciences > Biology > Molecular Biology/Genetics
General Issues > Causation
General Issues > Explanation
Depositing User: Jim Woodward
Date Deposited: 26 Aug 2014 21:58
Last Modified: 26 Aug 2014 21:58
Item ID: 10981
Journal or Publication Title: Aristotelian Society Supplementary Volume
DOI or Unique Handle: 10.1111/j.1467-8349.2013.00219.x
Subjects: Specific Sciences > Biology > Molecular Biology/Genetics
General Issues > Causation
General Issues > Explanation
Date: June 2013
Page Range: pp. 39-65
Volume: 87
Number: 1
URI: http://philsci-archive.pitt.edu/id/eprint/10981

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