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The Case of Regularity in Mechanistic Causal Explanation

Andersen, Holly (2011) The Case of Regularity in Mechanistic Causal Explanation. In: [2011] Mechanisms: Les Mécaniciens: Salon des Refusés (Pittsburgh; 9 April 2011).

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    Abstract

    How regular do mechanisms need to be, in order to count as mechanisms? This paper addresses recent arguments for dropping the requirement of regularity from the definition of a mechanism. I provide an expanded taxonomy of kinds of regularity mechanisms may exhibit. This taxonomy allows precise explication of the degree and location of regular operation within a mechanism, and highlights the role that various kinds of regularity play in scientific explanation. I defend the broadened regularity requirement in terms of regularity’s role in individuating mechanisms against a background of other causal processes, and by prioritizing mechanisms’ ability to serve as a model of scientific explanation, rather than merely as a metaphysical account of causation. It is because mechanisms are regular, in the expanded sense described here, that they are capable of supporting the kinds of generalizations that figure prominently in scientific explanations.


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    Item Type: Conference or Workshop Item (UNSPECIFIED)
    Keywords: mechanism; causation; regularity; explanation
    Subjects: General Issues > Causation
    Specific Sciences > Cognitive Science
    General Issues > Explanation
    Conferences and Volumes: [2011] Mechanisms: Les Mécaniciens: Salon des Refusés (Pittsburgh; 9 April 2011)
    Depositing User: Dr. Holly Andersen
    Date Deposited: 06 Mar 2011 01:28
    Last Modified: 13 Mar 2013 09:35
    Item ID: 8505
    URI: http://philsci-archive.pitt.edu/id/eprint/8505

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