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The Nonmechanistic Option: Defending Dynamical Explanations

Meyer, Russell (2018) The Nonmechanistic Option: Defending Dynamical Explanations. [Preprint]

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Abstract

This paper demonstrates that nonmechanistic, dynamical explanations are a viable approach to explanation in the special sciences. The claim that dynamical models can be explanatory without reference to mechanisms has previously been met with three lines of criticism from mechanists: the causal relevance concern, the genuine laws concern, and the charge of predictivism. I argue, however, that these mechanist criticisms fail to defeat nonmechanistic, dynamical explanation. Using the examples of Haken et al.’s ([1985]) HKB model of bimanual coordination, and Thelen et al.’s ([2001]) dynamical field model of infant perseverative reaching, I show how each mechanist criticism fails once the standards of Woodward’s ([2003]) interventionist framework are applied to dynamical models. An even-handed application of Woodwardian interventionism reveals that dynamical models are capable of producing genuine explanations without appealing to underlying mechanistic details.


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Item Type: Preprint
Creators:
CreatorsEmailORCID
Meyer, Russellrjm322@uowmail.edu.au0000-0003-3088-2617
Keywords: Mechanistic explanation; Mechanism; Dynamical models; Dynamical explanation
Subjects: Specific Sciences > Cognitive Science
General Issues > Explanation
Specific Sciences > Psychology
Depositing User: Mr Russell Meyer
Date Deposited: 08 Feb 2018 14:46
Last Modified: 08 Feb 2018 14:46
Item ID: 14360
Subjects: Specific Sciences > Cognitive Science
General Issues > Explanation
Specific Sciences > Psychology
Date: 6 February 2018
URI: http://philsci-archive.pitt.edu/id/eprint/14360

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