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  1. added 2019-02-22
    The Narrow Ontic Counterfactual Account of Distinctively Mathematical Explanation.Mark Povich - forthcoming - British Journal for the Philosophy of Science.
    An account of distinctively mathematical explanation (DME) should satisfy three desiderata: it should account for the modal import of some DMEs; it should distinguish uses of mathematics in explanation that are distinctively mathematical from those that are not (Baron [2016]); and it should also account for the directionality of DMEs (Craver and Povich [2017]). Baron’s (forthcoming) deductive-mathematical account, because it is modelled on the deductive-nomological account, is unlikely to satisfy these desiderata. I provide a counterfactual account of DME, the Narrow (...)
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  2. added 2019-02-22
    The Directionality of Distinctively Mathematical Explanations.Carl F. Craver & Mark Povich - 2017 - Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part A 63:31-38.
    In “What Makes a Scientific Explanation Distinctively Mathematical?” (2013b), Lange uses several compelling examples to argue that certain explanations for natural phenomena appeal primarily to mathematical, rather than natural, facts. In such explanations, the core explanatory facts are modally stronger than facts about causation, regularity, and other natural relations. We show that Lange's account of distinctively mathematical explanation is flawed in that it fails to account for the implicit directionality in each of his examples. This inadequacy is remediable in each (...)
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  3. added 2019-02-22
    Mechanisms and Model-Based Functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging.Mark Povich - 2015 - Philosophy of Science 82 (5):1035-1046.
    Mechanistic explanations satisfy widely held norms of explanation: the ability to manipulate and answer counterfactual questions about the explanandum phenomenon. A currently debated issue is whether any nonmechanistic explanations can satisfy these explanatory norms. Weiskopf argues that the models of object recognition and categorization, JIM, SUSTAIN, and ALCOVE, are not mechanistic yet satisfy these norms of explanation. In this article I argue that these models are mechanism sketches. My argument applies recent research using model-based functional magnetic resonance imaging, a novel (...)
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  4. added 2019-01-27
    Mechanistic Computational Individuation Without Biting the Bullet.Nir Fresco & Marcin Miłkowski - 2019 - British Journal for the Philosophy of Science:axz005.
    Is the mathematical function being computed by a given physical system determined by the system’s dynamics? This question is at the heart of the indeterminacy of computation phenomenon (Fresco et al. [unpublished]). A paradigmatic example is a conventional electrical AND-gate that is often said to compute conjunction, but it can just as well be used to compute disjunction. Despite the pervasiveness of this phenomenon in physical computational systems, it has been discussed in the philosophical literature only indirectly, mostly with reference (...)
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  5. added 2019-01-26
    How Could a Rational Analysis Model Explain?Samuli Reijula - 2017 - COGSCI 2017: 39th Annual Conference of the Cognitive Science Society,.
    Rational analysis is an influential but contested account of how probabilistic modeling can be used to construct non-mechanistic but self-standing explanatory models of the mind. In this paper, I disentangle and assess several possible explanatory contributions which could be attributed to rational analysis. Although existing models suffer from evidential problems that question their explanatory power, I argue that rational analysis modeling can complement mechanistic theorizing by providing models of environmental affordances.
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  6. added 2019-01-05
    From Wide Cognition to Mechanisms: A Silent Revolution.Marcin Miłkowski, Robert Clowes, Zuzanna Rucińska, Aleksandra Przegalińska, Tadeusz Zawidzki, Joel Krueger, Adam Gies, Marek McGann, Łukasz Afeltowicz, Witold Wachowski, Fredrik Stjernberg, Victor Loughlin & Mateusz Hohol - 2018 - Frontiers in Psychology 9.
    In this paper, we argue that several recent ‘wide’ perspectives on cognition (embodied, embedded, extended, enactive, and distributed) are only partially relevant to the study of cognition. While these wide accounts override traditional methodological individualism, the study of cognition has already progressed beyond these proposed perspectives towards building integrated explanations of the mechanisms involved, including not only internal submechanisms but also interactions with others, groups, cognitive artifacts, and their environment. The claim is substantiated with reference to recent developments in the (...)
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  7. added 2018-11-01
    Merleau-Ponty’s Implicit Critique of the New Mechanists.Benjamin Sheredos - 2018 - Synthese:1-25.
    I argue (1) that what (ontic) New Mechanistic philosophers of science call mechanisms would be material Gestalten, and (2) that Merleau-Ponty’s engagement with Gestalt theory can help us frame a standing challenge against ontic conceptions of mechanisms. In short, until the (ontic) New Mechanist can provide us with a plausible account of the organization of mechanisms as an objective feature of mind-independent ontic structures in the world which we might discover – and no ontic Mechanist has done so – it (...)
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  8. added 2018-10-22
    How to Explain Miscomputation.Chris Tucker - 2018 - Philosophers' Imprint 18 (24):1-17.
    Just as theory of representation is deficient if it can’t explain how misrepresentation is possible, a theory of computation is deficient if it can’t explain how miscomputation is possible. Nonetheless, philosophers have generally ignored miscomputation. My primary goal in this paper is to clarify both what miscomputation is and how to adequately explain it. Miscomputation is a special kind of malfunction: a system miscomputes when it computes in a way that it shouldn’t. To explain miscomputation, you must provide accounts of (...)
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  9. added 2018-07-29
    Horizontal Surgicality and Mechanistic Constitution.Michael Baumgartner, Lorenzo Casini & Beate Krickel - 2018 - Erkenntnis:1-14.
    While ideal interventions are acknowledged by many as valuable tools for the analysis of causation, recent discussions have shown that, since there are no ideal interventions on upper-level phenomena that non-reductively supervene on their underlying mechanisms, interventions cannot—contrary to a popular opinion—ground an informative analysis of constitution. This has led some to abandon the project of analyzing constitution in interventionist terms. By contrast, this paper defines the notion of a horizontally surgical intervention, and argues that, when combined with some innocuous (...)
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  10. added 2018-02-17
    Functionalism, Superduperfunctionalism, and Physicalism: Lessons From Supervenience.Ronald Endicott - 2016 - Synthese 193 (7):2205-2235.
    Philosophers almost universally believe that concepts of supervenience fail to satisfy the standards for physicalism because they offer mere property correlations that are left unexplained. They are thus compatible with non-physicalist accounts of those relations. Moreover, many philosophers not only prefer some kind of functional-role theory as a physically acceptable account of mind-body and other inter-level relations, but they use it as a form of “superdupervenience” to explain supervenience in a physically acceptable way. But I reject a central part of (...)
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  11. added 2018-02-16
    Understanding Human Action: Integrating Meanings, Mechanisms, Causes, and Contexts.Machiel Keestra - 2011 - In Repko Allen, Szostak Rick & Newell William (eds.), Interdisciplinary Research: Case Studies of Integrative Understandings of Complex Problems. Sage Publications. pp. 201-235.
    Humans are capable of understanding an incredible variety of actions performed by other humans. Even though these range from primary biological actions, like eating and fleeing, to acts in parliament or in poetry, humans generally can make sense of each other’s actions. Understanding other people’s actions is called action understanding, and it can transcend differences in race, gender, culture, age, and social and historical circumstances. Action understanding is the cognitive ability to make sense of another person’s action by integrating perceptual (...)
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  12. added 2018-01-17
    Social Intelligence: How to Integrate Research? A Mechanistic Perspective.Marcin Miłkowski - forthcoming - AI and Society:1-10.
    Is there a field of social intelligence? Many various disciplines approach the subject and it may only seem natural to suppose that different fields of study aim at explaining different phenomena; in other words, there is no special field of study of social intelligence. In this paper, I argue for an opposite claim. Namely, there is a way to integrate research on social intelligence, as long as one accepts the mechanistic account to explanation. Mechanistic integration of different explanations, however, comes (...)
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  13. added 2017-12-28
    Manipulating the Contents of Consciousness.Alfredo Vernazzani - 2015 - Proceedings of the 37th Meeting of the Cognitive Science Society.
    I argue for a manipulationist-mechanistic framework for content-NCC research in the case of visual consciousness (Bechtel 2008; Neisser 2012). Reference to mechanisms is common in the NCC research. Furthermore, recent developments in non-invasive brain stimulation techniques (NIBS) lend support to a manipulationist standpoint. The crucial question is to understand what is changed after manipulation of a brain mechanism. In the second part of the paper I review the literature on intentionalism, and argue that intervention on the neural mechanism is likely (...)
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  14. added 2017-11-04
    Integrating Cognitive (Neuro)Science Using Mechanisms.Marcin Miłkowski - 2016 - Avant: Trends in Interdisciplinary Studies (2):45-67.
    In this paper, an account of theoretical integration in cognitive (neuro)science from the mechanistic perspective is defended. It is argued that mechanistic patterns of integration can be better understood in terms of constraints on representations of mechanisms, not just on the space of possible mechanisms, as previous accounts of integration had it. This way, integration can be analyzed in more detail with the help of constraintsatisfaction account of coherence between scientific representations. In particular, the account has resources to talk of (...)
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  15. added 2017-07-30
    HIT and Brain Reward Function: A Case of Mistaken Identity (Theory).Cory Wright, Matteo Colombo & Alexander Beard - 2017 - Studies in History and Philosophy of Biological and Biomedical Sciences 64:28–40.
    This paper employs a case study from the history of neuroscience—brain reward function—to scrutinize the inductive argument for the so-called ‘Heuristic Identity Theory’ (HIT). The case fails to support HIT, illustrating why other case studies previously thought to provide empirical support for HIT also fold under scrutiny. After distinguishing two different ways of understanding the types of identity claims presupposed by HIT and considering other conceptual problems, we conclude that HIT is not an alternative to the traditional identity theory so (...)
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  16. added 2017-05-26
    Saving the Mutual Manipulability Account of Constitutive Relevance.Beate Krickel - 2018 - Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part A 68:58-67.
    Constitutive mechanistic explanations are said to refer to mechanisms that constitute the phenomenon-to-be-explained. The most prominent approach of how to understand this constitution relation is Carl Craver’s mutual manipulability approach to constitutive relevance. Recently, the mutual manipulability approach has come under attack (Leuridan 2012; Baumgartner and Gebharter 2015; Romero 2015; Harinen 2014; Casini and Baumgartner 2016). Roughly, it is argued that this approach is inconsistent because it is spelled out in terms of interventionism (which is an approach to causation), whereas (...)
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  17. added 2017-05-26
    Making Sense of Interlevel Causation in Mechanisms From a Metaphysical Perspective.Beate Krickel - 2017 - Journal for General Philosophy of Science / Zeitschrift für Allgemeine Wissenschaftstheorie 48 (3):453-468.
    According to the new mechanistic approach, an acting entity is at a lower mechanistic level than another acting entity if and only if the former is a component in the mechanism for the latter. Craver and Bechtel :547–563, 2007. doi:10.1007/s10539-006-9028-8) argue that a consequence of this view is that there cannot be causal interactions between acting entities at different mechanistic levels. Their main reason seems to be what I will call the Metaphysical Argument: things at different levels of a mechanism (...)
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  18. added 2017-04-18
    Grounding-Mechanical Explanation.Kelly Trogdon - 2018 - Philosophical Studies 175 (6):1289-1309.
    I argue that there is an important similarity between causation and grounding. In particular I argue that, just as there is a type of scientific explanation that appeals to causal mechanisms—causal-mechanical explanation—there is a type of metaphysical explanation that appeals to grounding mechanisms—grounding-mechanical explanation. The upshot is that the role that grounding mechanisms play in certain metaphysical explanations mirrors the role that causal mechanisms play in certain scientific explanations. In this light, it becomes clear that grounding-mechanical explanations make crucial contributions (...)
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  19. added 2017-04-07
    Unification Strategies in Cognitive Science.Marcin Miłkowski - 2016 - Studies in Logic, Grammar and Rhetoric 48 (1):13–33.
    Cognitive science is an interdisciplinary conglomerate of various research fields and disciplines, which increases the risk of fragmentation of cognitive theories. However, while most previous work has focused on theoretical integration, some kinds of integration may turn out to be monstrous, or result in superficially lumped and unrelated bodies of knowledge. In this paper, I distinguish theoretical integration from theoretical unification, and propose some analyses of theoretical unification dimensions. Moreover, two research strategies that are supposed to lead to unification are (...)
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  20. added 2017-02-21
    The Components and Boundaries of Mechanisms.Marie I. Kaiser - 2017 - In S. Glennan & P. Illari (eds.), The Routledge Handbook of Mechanisms and Mechanical Philosophy. New York, USA: Routledge.
    Mechanisms are said to consist of two kinds of components, entities and activities. In the first half of this chapter, I examine what entities and activities are, how they relate to well-known ontological categories, such as processes or dispositions, and how entities and activities relate to each other (e.g., can one be reduced to the other or are they mutually dependent?). The second part of this chapter analyzes different criteria for individuating the components of mechanisms and discusses how real the (...)
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  21. added 2017-02-20
    Mechanisms and Laws: Clarifying the Debate.Marie I. Kaiser & C. F. Craver - 2013 - In H.-K. Chao, S.-T. Chen & R. Millstein (eds.), Mechanism and Causality in Biology and Economics. Dordrecht: Springer. pp. 125-145.
    Leuridan (2011) questions whether mechanisms can really replace laws at the heart of our thinking about science. In doing so, he enters a long-standing discussion about the relationship between the mech-anistic structures evident in the theories of contemporary biology and the laws of nature privileged especially in traditional empiricist traditions of the philosophy of science (see e.g. Wimsatt 1974; Bechtel and Abrahamsen 2005; Bogen 2005; Darden 2006; Glennan 1996; MDC 2000; Schaffner 1993; Tabery 2003; Weber 2005). In our view, Leuridan (...)
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  22. added 2017-02-16
    Causal Graphs and Biological Mechanisms.Alexander Gebharter & Marie I. Kaiser - 2014 - In Marie I. Kaiser, Oliver Scholz, Daniel Plenge & Andreas Hüttemann (eds.), Explanation in the special sciences: The case of biology and history. Dordrecht: Springer. pp. 55-86.
    Modeling mechanisms is central to the biological sciences – for purposes of explanation, prediction, extrapolation, and manipulation. A closer look at the philosophical literature reveals that mechanisms are predominantly modeled in a purely qualitative way. That is, mechanistic models are conceived of as representing how certain entities and activities are spatially and temporally organized so that they bring about the behavior of the mechanism in question. Although this adequately characterizes how mechanisms are represented in biology textbooks, contemporary biological research practice (...)
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  23. added 2017-02-15
    On the Limits of Causal Modeling: Spatially-Structurally Complex Biological Phenomena.Marie I. Kaiser - 2016 - Philosophy of Science 83 (5):921-933.
    This paper examines the adequacy of causal graph theory as a tool for modeling biological phenomena and formalizing biological explanations. I point out that the causal graph approach reaches it limits when it comes to modeling biological phenomena that involve complex spatial and structural relations. Using a case study from molecular biology, DNA-binding and -recognition of proteins, I argue that causal graph models fail to adequately represent and explain causal phenomena in this field. The inadequacy of these models is due (...)
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  24. added 2017-02-10
    The Functional Sense of Mechanism.Justin Garson - 2013 - Philosophy of Science 80 (3):317-333.
    This article presents a distinct sense of ‘mechanism’, which I call the functional sense of mechanism. According to this sense, mechanisms serve functions, and this fact places substantive restrictions on the kinds of system activities ‘for which’ there can be a mechanism. On this view, there are no mechanisms for pathology; pathologies result from disrupting mechanisms for functions. Second, on this sense, natural selection is probably not a mechanism for evolution because it does not serve a function. After distinguishing this (...)
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  25. added 2016-12-08
    The Metaphysics of Constitutive Mechanistic Phenomena.Marie I. Kaiser & Beate Krickel - 2016 - British Journal for the Philosophy of Science:axv058.
    The central aim of this article is to specify the ontological nature of constitutive mechanistic phenomena. After identifying three criteria of adequacy that any plausible approach to constitutive mechanistic phenomena must satisfy, we present four different suggestions, found in the mechanistic literature, of what mechanistic phenomena might be. We argue that none of these suggestions meets the criteria of adequacy. According to our analysis, constitutive mechanistic phenomena are best understood as what we will call ‘object-involving occurrents’. Furthermore, on the basis (...)
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  26. added 2016-12-08
    Embryological Models in Ancient Philosophy.Devin Henry - 2005 - Phronesis 50 (1):1 - 42.
    Historically embryogenesis has been among the most philosophically intriguing phenomena. In this paper I focus on one aspect of biological development that was particularly perplexing to the ancients: self-organisation. For many ancients, the fact that an organism determines the important features of its own development required a special model for understanding how this was possible. This was especially true for Aristotle, Alexander, and Simplicius, who all looked to contemporary technology to supply that model. However, they did not all agree on (...)
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  27. added 2016-08-30
    On the Incompatibility of Biological Dynamical Mechanisms and Causal Graphs.Marcel Weber - 2016 - Philosophy of Science 83 (5):959-971.
    I examine to what extent accounts of mechanisms based on formal interventionist theories of causality can adequately represent biological mechanisms with complex dynamics. Using a differential equation model for a circadian clock mechanism as an example, I first show that there exists an iterative solution that can be interpreted as a structural causal model. Thus, in principle it is possible to integrate causal difference-making information with dynamical information. However, the differential equation model itself lacks the right modularity properties for a (...)
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  28. added 2016-06-24
    An Abductive Theory of Constitution.Michael Baumgartner & Lorenzo Casini - 2017 - Philosophy of Science 84 (2):214-233.
    The first part of this paper finds Craver’s (2007) mutual manipulability theory (MM) of constitution inadequate, as it definitionally ties constitution to the feasibility of idealized experiments, which, however, are unrealizable in principle. As an alternative, the second part develops an abductive theory of constitution (NDC), which exploits the fact that phenomena and their constituents are unbreakably coupled via common causes. The best explanation for this common-cause coupling is the existence of an additional dependence relation, viz. constitution. Apart from adequately (...)
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  29. added 2016-05-02
    A Regularist Approach to Mechanistic Type-Level Explanation.Beate Krickel - 2017 - British Journal for the Philosophy of Science (4):00-00.
    Most defenders of the new mechanistic approach accept ontic constraints for successful scientific explanation (Illari 2013; Craver 2014). The minimal claim is that scientific explanations have objective truthmakers, namely mechanisms that exist in the physical world independently of any observer and that cause or constitute the phenomena-to- be-explained. How can this idea be applied to type-level explanations? Many authors at least implicitly assume that in order for mechanisms to be the truthmakers of type-level explanation they need to be regular (Andersen (...)
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  30. added 2016-04-27
    An Introduction to Interdisciplinary Research. Theory and Practice.Steph Menken, Machiel Keestra, Lucas Rutting, Ger Post, Mieke de Roo, Sylvia Blad & Linda de Greef (eds.) - 2016 - Amsterdam University Press.
    This book (128 pp.) serves as an introduction and manual to guide students through the interdisciplinary research process. We are becoming increasingly aware that, as a result of technological developments and globalisation, problems are becoming so complex that they can only be solved through cooperation between multiple disciplines. Healthcare, climate change, food security, energy, financial markets and quality of life are just a few examples of issues that require scientists and academics to work in a crossdisciplinary way. As a result (...)
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  31. added 2016-04-07
    Developing the Explanatory Dimensions of Part–Whole Realization.Ronald Endicott - 2016 - Philosophical Studies 173 (12):3347-3368.
    I use Carl Gillett’s much heralded dimensioned theory of realization as a platform to develop a plausible part–whole theory. I begin with some basic desiderata for a theory of realization that its key terms should be defined and that it should be explanatory. I then argue that Gillett’s original theory violates these conditions because its explanatory force rests upon an unspecified “in virtue of” relation. I then examine Gillett’s later version that appeals instead to theoretical terms tied to “mechanisms.” Yet (...)
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  32. added 2016-03-09
    The Mismeasure of Machine: Synthetic Biology and the Trouble with Engineering Metaphors.Maarten Boudry & Massimo Pigliucci - 2013 - Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part C: Studies in History and Philosophy of Biological and Biomedical Sciences 44 (4):660-668.
    The scientific study of living organisms is permeated by machine and design metaphors. Genes are thought of as the ‘‘blueprint’’ of an organism, organisms are ‘‘reverse engineered’’ to discover their functionality, and living cells are compared to biochemical factories, complete with assembly lines, transport systems, messenger circuits, etc. Although the notion of design is indispensable to think about adaptations, and engineering analogies have considerable heuristic value (e.g., optimality assumptions), we argue they are limited in several important respects. In particular, the (...)
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  33. added 2015-11-21
    Complements, Not Competitors: Causal and Mathematical Explanations.Holly Andersen - 2017 - British Journal for the Philosophy of Science:axw023.
    A finer-grained delineation of a given explanandum reveals a nexus of closely related causal and non- causal explanations, complementing one another in ways that yield further explanatory traction on the phenomenon in question. By taking a narrower construal of what counts as a causal explanation, a new class of distinctively mathematical explanations pops into focus; Lange’s characterization of distinctively mathematical explanations can be extended to cover these. This new class of distinctively mathematical explanations is illustrated with the Lotka-Volterra equations. There (...)
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  34. added 2015-09-11
    Philosophical Controversies in the Evaluation of Medical Treatments : With a Focus on the Evidential Roles of Randomization and Mechanisms in Evidence-Based Medicine.Alexander Mebius - 2015 - Dissertation, KTH Royal Institute of Technology
    This thesis examines philosophical controversies surrounding the evaluation of medical treatments, with a focus on the evidential roles of randomised trials and mechanisms in Evidence-Based Medicine. Current 'best practice' usually involves excluding non-randomised trial evidence from systematic reviews in cases where randomised trials are available for inclusion in the reviews. The first paper challenges this practice and evaluates whether adding of evidence from non-randomised trials might improve the quality and precision of some systematic reviews. The second paper compares the alleged (...)
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  35. added 2015-05-05
    Mental Mechanisms and Psychological Construction.Mitchell Herschbach & William Bechtel - 2014 - In Lisa Feldman Barrett & James Russell (eds.), The Psychological Construction of Emotion. Guilford Press. pp. 21-44.
    Psychological construction represents an important new approach to psychological phenomena, one that has the promise to help us reconceptualize the mind both as a behavioral and as a biological system. It has so far been developed in the greatest detail for emotion, but it has important implications for how researchers approach other mental phenomena such as reasoning, memory, and language use. Its key contention is that phenomena that are characterized in (folk) psychological vocabulary are not themselves basic features of the (...)
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  36. added 2015-04-27
    Evaluating Artificial Models of Cognition.Marcin Miłkowski - 2015 - Studies in Logic, Grammar and Rhetoric 40 (1):43-62.
    Artificial models of cognition serve different purposes, and their use determines the way they should be evaluated. There are also models that do not represent any particular biological agents, and there is controversy as to how they should be assessed. At the same time, modelers do evaluate such models as better or worse. There is also a widespread tendency to call for publicly available standards of replicability and benchmarking for such models. In this paper, I argue that proper evaluation ofmodels (...)
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  37. added 2015-04-09
    Explanatory Completeness and Idealization in Large Brain Simulations: A Mechanistic Perspective.Marcin Miłkowski - 2016 - Synthese 193 (5):1457-1478.
    The claim defended in the paper is that the mechanistic account of explanation can easily embrace idealization in big-scale brain simulations, and that only causally relevant detail should be present in explanatory models. The claim is illustrated with two methodologically different models: Blue Brain, used for particular simulations of the cortical column in hybrid models, and Eliasmith’s SPAUN model that is both biologically realistic and able to explain eight different tasks. By drawing on the mechanistic theory of computational explanation, I (...)
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  38. added 2015-04-09
    Satisfaction Conditions in Anticipatory Mechanisms.Marcin Miłkowski - 2015 - Biology and Philosophy 30 (5):709-728.
    The purpose of this paper is to present a general mechanistic framework for analyzing causal representational claims, and offer a way to distinguish genuinely representational explanations from those that invoke representations for honorific purposes. It is usually agreed that rats are capable of navigation because they maintain a cognitive map of their environment. Exactly how and why their neural states give rise to mental representations is a matter of an ongoing debate. I will show that anticipatory mechanisms involved in rats’ (...)
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  39. added 2015-01-21
    The Mechanistic Approach of The Theory of Island Biogeography and its Current Relevance.Viorel Pâslaru - 2014 - Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part C: Studies in History and Philosophy of Biological and Biomedical Sciences 45 (1):22-33.
    Philosophers of science have examined The Theory of Island Biogeography by Robert MacArthur and E. O. Wilson (1967) mainly due to its important contribution to modeling in ecology, but they have not examined it as a representative case of ecological explanation. In this paper, I scrutinize the type of explanation used in this paradigmatic work of ecology. I describe the philosophy of science of MacArthur and Wilson and show that it is mechanistic. Based on this account and in light of (...)
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  40. added 2014-10-05
    Heuristics, Descriptions, and the Scope of Mechanistic Explanation.Carlos Zednik - 2015 - In P. Braillard & C. Malaterre (eds.), Explanation in Biology. An Enquiry into the Diversity of Explanatory Patterns in the Life Sciences. Dordrecht: Springer. pp. 295-318.
    The philosophical conception of mechanistic explanation is grounded on a limited number of canonical examples. These examples provide an overly narrow view of contemporary scientific practice, because they do not reflect the extent to which the heuristic strategies and descriptive practices that contribute to mechanistic explanation have evolved beyond the well-known methods of decomposition, localization, and pictorial representation. Recent examples from evolutionary robotics and network approaches to biology and neuroscience demonstrate the increasingly important role played by computer simulations and mathematical (...)
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  41. added 2014-09-16
    Reverse-Engineering in Cognitive-Science.Marcin Miłkowski - 2013 - In Marcin Miłkowski & Konrad Talmont-Kaminski (eds.), Regarding Mind, Naturally. Cambridge Scholars Press. pp. 12-29.
    I discuss whether there are some lessons for philosophical inquiry over the nature of simulation to be learnt from the practical methodology of reengineering. I will argue that reengineering serves a similar purpose as simulations in theoretical science such as computational neuroscience or neurorobotics, and that the procedures and heuristics of reengineering help to develop solutions to outstanding problems of simulation.
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  42. added 2014-03-14
    Some Epistemological Concerns About Dissociative Identity Disorder and Diagnostic Practices in Psychology.Michael J. Shaffer & Jeffery Oakley - 2005 - Philosophical Psychology 18 (1):1-29.
    In this paper we argue that dissociative identity disorder (DID) is best interpreted as a causal model of a (possible) post-traumatic psychological process, as a mechanical model of an abnormal psychological condition. From this perspective we examine and criticize the evidential status of DID, and we demonstrate that there is really no good reason to believe that anyone has ever suffered from DID so understood. This is so because the proponents of DID violate basic methodological principles of good causal modeling. (...)
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  43. added 2014-01-29
    Bowtie Structures, Pathway Diagrams, and Topological Explanation.Nicholaos Jones - 2014 - Erkenntnis 79 (5):1135-1155.
    While mechanistic explanation and, to a lesser extent, nomological explanation are well-explored topics in the philosophy of biology, topological explanation is not. Nor is the role of diagrams in topological explanations. These explanations do not appeal to the operation of mechanisms or laws, and extant accounts of the role of diagrams in biological science explain neither why scientists might prefer diagrammatic representations of topological information to sentential equivalents nor how such representations might facilitate important processes of explanatory reasoning unavailable to (...)
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  44. added 2013-02-01
    New Mechanistic Explanation and the Need for Explanatory Constraints.L. R. Franklin-Hall - 2016 - In Ken Aizawa & Carl Gillett (eds.), Scientific Composition and Metaphysical Ground. Palgrave. pp. 41-74.
    This paper critiques the new mechanistic explanatory program on grounds that, even when applied to the kinds of examples that it was originally designed to treat, it does not distinguish correct explanations from those that blunder. First, I offer a systematization of the explanatory account, one according to which explanations are mechanistic models that satisfy three desiderata: they must 1) represent causal relations, 2) describe the proper parts, and 3) depict the system at the right ‘level.’ Second, I argue that (...)
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  45. added 2013-01-17
    High-Level Explanation and the Interventionist’s ‘Variables Problem’.L. R. Franklin-Hall - 2016 - British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 67 (2):553-577.
    The interventionist account of causal explanation, in the version presented by Jim Woodward, has been recently claimed capable of buttressing the widely felt—though poorly understood—hunch that high-level, relatively abstract explanations, of the sort provided by sciences like biology, psychology and economics, are in some cases explanatorily optimal. It is the aim of this paper to show that this is mistaken. Due to a lack of effective constraints on the causal variables at the heart of the interventionist causal-explanatory scheme, as presently (...)
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  46. added 2012-07-26
    Three Kinds of New Mechanism.Arnon Levy - 2013 - Biology and Philosophy 28 (1):99-114.
    I distinguish three theses associated with the new mechanistic philosophy – concerning causation, explanation and scientific methodology. Advocates of each thesis are identified and relationships among them are outlined. I then look at some recent work on natural selection and mechanisms. There, attention to different kinds of New Mechanism significantly affects of what is at stake.
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  47. added 2012-02-16
    Mechanistic Explanation Without the Ontic Conception.Cory Wright - 2012 - European Journal of Philosophy of Science 2 (3):375-394.
    The ontic conception of scientific explanation has been constructed and motivated on the basis of a putative lexical ambiguity in the term explanation. I raise a puzzle for this ambiguity claim, and then give a deflationary solution under which all ontically-rendered talk of explanation is merely elliptical; what it is elliptical for is a view of scientific explanation that altogether avoids the ontic conception. This result has revisionary consequences for New Mechanists and other philosophers of science, many of whom have (...)
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  48. added 2011-10-20
    Mechanisms and Constitutive Relevance.Mark B. Couch - 2011 - Synthese 183 (3):375-388.
    This paper will examine the nature of mechanisms and the distinction between the relevant and irrelevant parts involved in a mechanism’s operation. I first consider Craver’s account of this distinction in his book on the nature of mechanisms, and explain some problems. I then offer a novel account of the distinction that appeals to some resources from Mackie’s theory of causation. I end by explaining how this account enables us to better understand what mechanisms are and their various features.
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  49. added 2011-05-30
    The Case for Regularity in Mechanistic Causal Explanation.Holly Andersen - 2012 - Synthese 189 (3):415-432.
    How regular do mechanisms need to be, in order to count as mechanisms? This paper addresses two arguments for dropping the requirement of regularity from the definition of a mechanism, one motivated by examples from the sciences and the other motivated by metaphysical considerations regarding causation. I defend a broadened regularity requirement on mechanisms that takes the form of a taxonomy of kinds of regularity that mechanisms may exhibit. This taxonomy allows precise explication of the degree and location of regular (...)
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  50. added 2011-05-30
    Mechanisms, Laws, and Regularities.Holly Andersen - 2011 - Philosophy of Science 78 (2):325-331.
    Leuridan (2010) argued that mechanisms cannot provide a genuine alternative to laws of nature as a model of explanation in the sciences, and advocates Mitchell’s (1997) pragmatic account of laws. I first demonstrate that Leuridan gets the order of priority wrong between 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 (...)
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