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Models, Mechanisms, and Coherence

Colombo, Matteo and Hartmann, Stephan and van Iersel, Robert (2013) Models, Mechanisms, and Coherence. [Preprint]

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Abstract

Life-science phenomena are often explained by specifying the mechanisms that bring them about. The new mechanistic philosophers have done much to substantiate this claim, and to provide us with a better understanding of what mechanisms are and how they explain. While there is disagreement among current mechanists on various issues, they share a common core position and a seeming commitment to some form of scientific realism. But is such a commitment necessary? Is it the best way to go about mechanistic explanation? In this paper, we propose an alternative antirealist account that also fits explanatory practice in the life sciences. We pay special attention to mechanistic models, i.e. scientific models that involve a mechanism, and to the role of coherence considerations in building such models. To illustrate our points, we consider the mechanism for the action potential.


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Item Type: Preprint
Creators:
CreatorsEmailORCID
Colombo, Matteom.colombo@uvt.nl
Hartmann, Stephans.hartmann@lmu.de
van Iersel, Robertrobertvaniersel55@gmail.com
Additional Information: The paper will appear in The British Journal for the Philosophy of Science.
Keywords: Mechanistic explanations, scientific realism, modeling, coherence
Subjects: Specific Sciences > Cognitive Science
General Issues > Explanation
General Issues > Realism/Anti-realism
Depositing User: Stephan Hartmann
Date Deposited: 10 Apr 2013 12:46
Last Modified: 10 Apr 2013 12:46
Item ID: 9665
Subjects: Specific Sciences > Cognitive Science
General Issues > Explanation
General Issues > Realism/Anti-realism
Date: 9 April 2013
URI: http://philsci-archive.pitt.edu/id/eprint/9665

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