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Constraints on Localization and Decomposition as Explanatory Strategies in the Biological Sciences

Silberstein, Michael and Chemero, Tony (2012) Constraints on Localization and Decomposition as Explanatory Strategies in the Biological Sciences. In: [2012] Philosophy of Science Assoc. 23rd Biennial Mtg (San Diego, CA) > PSA 2012 Contributed Papers.

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    Abstract

    Several articles have recently appeared arguing that there really are no viable alternatives to mechanistic explanation in the biological sciences (Kaplan and Craver 2011; Kaplan and Bechtel 2011). This claim is meant to hold both in principle and in practice. The basic claim is that any explanation of a particular feature of a biological system, including dynamical explanations, must ultimately be grounded in mechanistic explanation. There are several variations on this theme, some stronger and some weaker. In order to avoid equivocation and miscommunication, in section 1 we will argue that mechanistic explanation is defined by localization and decomposition. In section 2 we will argue that systems neuroscience contains explanations that violate both localization and decomposition on any non-trivial construal of these concepts. Therefore, in section 3 we conclude the mechanistic model of explanation either needs to stretch to now include explanations wherein localization or decomposition fail, or acknowledge that there are counter-examples to mechanistic explanation in the biological sciences. We will also consider consequences and possible replies on the part of the mechanist in section 3.


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    Item Type: Conference or Workshop Item (UNSPECIFIED)
    Keywords: mechanism,localization, decomposition, systems neuroscience, graph theory
    Subjects: Specific Sciences > Biology
    Specific Sciences > Cognitive Science
    General Issues > Explanation
    Specific Sciences > Biology > Neuroscience
    Conferences and Volumes: [2012] Philosophy of Science Assoc. 23rd Biennial Mtg (San Diego, CA) > PSA 2012 Contributed Papers
    Depositing User: Michael Silberstein
    Date Deposited: 29 Jun 2012 19:41
    Last Modified: 05 Jul 2012 19:37
    Item ID: 9195
    URI: http://philsci-archive.pitt.edu/id/eprint/9195

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