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Mechanisms, Laws, and Regularities

Andersen, Holly (2011) Mechanisms, Laws, and Regularities. Philosophy of Science, 78 (2). pp. 325-331.

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Abstract

Leuridan argued that mechanisms cannot provide a genuine alternative to laws of nature as a model of explanation in the sciences, and he advocates Mitchell’s pragmatic account of laws. I first demonstrate that Leuridan gets the order of priority wrong among mechanisms, regularity, and laws, and then make some clarifying remarks about how laws and mechanisms relate to regularities. Mechanisms are not an explanatory alternative to regularities; they are an alternative to laws. The existence of stable regularities in nature is necessary for either model of explanation: regularities are what laws describe and what mechanisms explain.


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Item Type: Published Article or Volume
Creators:
CreatorsEmailORCID
Andersen, Hollyholly_andersen@sfu.ca
Keywords: mechanisms; explanation; causation; regularities; laws
Subjects: Specific Sciences > Biology
General Issues > Causation
General Issues > Explanation
General Issues > Laws of Nature
Depositing User: Dr. Holly Andersen
Date Deposited: 13 Mar 2013 13:51
Last Modified: 13 Mar 2013 13:51
Item ID: 9620
Journal or Publication Title: Philosophy of Science
Publisher: University of Chicago
Official URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/10.1086/659229 .
Subjects: Specific Sciences > Biology
General Issues > Causation
General Issues > Explanation
General Issues > Laws of Nature
Date: 2011
Page Range: pp. 325-331
Volume: 78
Number: 2
URI: http://philsci-archive.pitt.edu/id/eprint/9620

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