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A Pragmatic-Ontic Account of Mechanistic Explanation

Sirtes, Daniel (2010) A Pragmatic-Ontic Account of Mechanistic Explanation. [Preprint]


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Craver’s (2007) account of explanation in neurobiology offers one of the most sophisticated explications of the mechanism concept. This paper argues that despite groundbreaking advances in understanding mechanistic explanation, serious challenges remain. The first goal of this paper is to address the notorious problem of explanatory relevance concerning mechanistic explanation. I argue that Craver underestimates the importance of pragmatic constraints on the individuation of mechanisms, and that his suggestion for a solution of the explanatory relevance problem is therefore insufficient on several counts. My second goal is to develop an alternative that explicitly incorporates both pragmatic and ontic aspects of mechanism individuation.

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Item Type: Preprint
Sirtes, Daniel
Additional Information: This paper has been submitted to a journal in its current form. A slightly different and much shorter version (focusing on the critical part) will be probably published in the proceedings of the ESF Workshop: Explanation, Confirmation, and Prediction in Biology and Medicine. See and
Keywords: Mechanism, mechanistic explanation, MDC, pragmatic approach, explanatory relevance problem, ontic apporoach, Mutual Manipulability Criteria, ideal explanatory text, partial explanatory information, relevance relation
Subjects: Specific Sciences > Biology > Neuroscience
Specific Sciences > Biology > Molecular Biology/Genetics
General Issues > Explanation
Depositing User: Daniel Sirtes
Date Deposited: 05 Mar 2010
Last Modified: 07 Oct 2010 15:19
Item ID: 5181

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