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Mechanistic explanation: asymmetry lost

Schindler, Samuel (2013) Mechanistic explanation: asymmetry lost. [Preprint]

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In a recent book and an article, Carl Craver construes the relations between different levels of a mechanism, which he also refers to as constitutive relations, by means of mutual manipulability (MM). Interpreted metaphysically, MM implies that inter-level relations are symmetrical. MM thus violates one of the main desiderata of scientific explanation, namely explanatory asymmetry. Parts of Craver’s writings suggest a metaphysical interpretation of MM, and Craver explicitly commits to constitutive relationships being symmetrical. The present paper draws attention to this shortcoming of Craver’s account. The paper furthermore explores the option of interpreting MM epistemologically, as a means for individuating mechanisms. It is argued that MM then is redundant. MM should therefore better be abandoned.

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Item Type: Preprint
Additional Information: forthcoming in Vassilios Karakostas and Dennis Dieks (eds.) (2013), “Recent Progress in Philosophy of Science: Perspectives and Foundational Problems”, The Third European Philosophy of Science Association Proceedings, Dordrecht: Springer.
Keywords: mechanism, explanation, asymmetry, Craver
Subjects: Specific Sciences > Biology
General Issues > Explanation
Depositing User: Samuel Schindler
Date Deposited: 13 Feb 2013 13:15
Last Modified: 12 Oct 2016 14:13
Item ID: 9557
Subjects: Specific Sciences > Biology
General Issues > Explanation
Date: 2 February 2013

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