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  1. added 2020-11-05
    Reduction in Real Life.Peter Godfrey‐Smith - 2008 - In Jakob Hohwy & Jesper Kallestrup (eds.), Being Reduced: New Essays on Reduction, Explanation, and Causation. Oxford University Press.
    The main message of the paper is that there is a disconnect between what many philosophers of mind think of as the scientific practice of reductive or reductionist explanation, and what the most relevant scientific work is actually like. I will sketch what I see as a better view, drawing on various ideas in recent philosophy of science. I then import these ideas into the philosophy of mind, to see what difference they make.1 At the end of the paper I (...)
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  2. added 2020-10-22
    Discovering Patterns: On the Norms of Mechanistic Inquiry.Lena Kästner & Philipp Haueis - forthcoming - Erkenntnis 3:1-26.
    What kinds of norms constrain mechanistic discovery and explanation? In the mechanistic literature, the norms for good explanations are directly derived from answers to the metaphysical question of what explanations are. Prominent mechanistic accounts thus emphasize either ontic or epistemic norms. Still, mechanistic philosophers on both sides agree that there is no sharp distinction between the processes of discovery and explanation. Thus, it seems reasonable to expect that ontic and epistemic accounts of explanation will be accompanied by ontic and epistemic (...)
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  3. added 2020-10-22
    Genealogy of Algorithms: Datafication as Transvaluation.Virgil W. Brower - 2020 - le Foucaldien 6 (1):1-43.
    This article investigates religious ideals persistent in the datafication of information society. Its nodal point is Thomas Bayes, after whom Laplace names the primal probability algorithm. It reconsiders their mathematical innovations with Laplace's providential deism and Bayes' singular theological treatise. Conceptions of divine justice one finds among probability theorists play no small part in the algorithmic data-mining and microtargeting of Cambridge Analytica. Theological traces within mathematical computation are emphasized as the vantage over large numbers shifts to weights beyond enumeration in (...)
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  4. added 2020-10-22
    Beyond Cognitive Myopia: A Patchwork Approach to the Concept of Neural Function.Philipp Haueis - 2018 - Synthese 195 (12):5373-5402.
    In this paper, I argue that looking at the concept of neural function through the lens of cognition alone risks cognitive myopia: it leads neuroscientists to focus only on mechanisms with cognitive functions that process behaviorally relevant information when conceptualizing “neural function”. Cognitive myopia tempts researchers to neglect neural mechanisms with noncognitive functions which do not process behaviorally relevant information but maintain and repair neural and other systems of the body. Cognitive myopia similarly affects philosophy of neuroscience because scholars overlook (...)
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  5. added 2020-10-12
    Replicability or Reproducibility? On the Replication Crisis in Computational Neuroscience and Sharing Only Relevant Detail.Marcin Miłkowski, Witold M. Hensel & Mateusz Hohol - 2018 - Journal of Computational Neuroscience 3 (45):163-172.
    Replicability and reproducibility of computational models has been somewhat understudied by “the replication movement.” In this paper, we draw on methodological studies into the replicability of psychological experiments and on the mechanistic account of explanation to analyze the functions of model replications and model reproductions in computational neuroscience. We contend that model replicability, or independent researchers' ability to obtain the same output using original code and data, and model reproducibility, or independent researchers' ability to recreate a model without original code, (...)
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  6. added 2020-10-06
    Mechanistic Idealization in Systems Biology.Dingmar van Eck & Cory Wright - forthcoming - Synthese.
    This paper adds to the philosophical literature on mechanistic explanation by elaborating two related explanatory functions of idealisation in mechanistic models. The first function involves explaining the presence of structural/organizational features of mechanisms by reference to their role as difference-makers for performance requirements. The second involves tracking counterfactual dependency relations between features of mechanisms and features of mechanistic explanandum phenomena. To make these functions salient, we relate our discussion to an exemplar from systems biological research on the mechanism for countering (...)
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  7. added 2020-09-26
    Mechanistic Artefact Explanation.Jeroen de Ridder - 2006 - Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part A 37 (1):81-96.
    One thing about technical artefacts that needs to be explained is how their physical make-up, or structure, enables them to fulfil the behaviour associated with their function, or, more colloquially, how they work. In this paper I develop an account of such explanations based on the familiar notion of mechanistic explanation. To accomplish this, I outline two explanatory strategies that provide two different types of insight into an artefact’s functioning, and show how human action inevitably plays a role in artefact (...)
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  8. added 2020-09-21
    Towards Mechanism 2.1: A Dynamic Causal Approach.W. Fang - forthcoming - Philosophy of Science.
    I propose a dynamic causal approach to characterizing the notion of a mechanism. Levy and Bechtel, among others, have pointed out several critical limitations of the new mechanical philosophy, and pointed in a new direction to extend this philosophy. Nevertheless, they have not fully fleshed out what that extended philosophy would look like. Based on a closer look at neuroscientific practice, I propose that a mechanism is a dynamic causal system that involves various components interacting, typically nonlinearly, with one another (...)
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  9. added 2020-09-21
    Mechanisms in Ecology.Viorel Pâslaru - 2018 - In Stuart Glennan & Phyllis McKay Illari (eds.), The Rutledge Handbook of Mechanisms and Mechanical Philosophy. London and New York: pp. 348-361.
    New mechanistic philosophy has not examined explanations in ecology although they are based extensively on describing mechanisms responsible for phenomena under scrutiny. This chapter uses the example of research on the shrub Lonicera maackii (Amur honeysuckle) to scrutinize individual-level mechanisms that are generally accepted and used in ecology and confronts them with the minimal account of mechanisms. Individual-level mechanisms are for a phenomenon, are hierarchical, and absent entities play a role in their functioning. They are distinguished by the role played (...)
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  10. added 2020-09-12
    Aristotle’s Empiricism: Experience and Mechanics in the 4th Century BC by Jean De Groot. [REVIEW]Monte Ransome Johnson - 2015 - Ancient Philosophy 35 (1):220-230.
    According to a generally held impression, which has coalesced out of centuries of misinterpretation occasioned mostly by misguided charitable commentary, but often by outright hostility to his followers (and occasionally deliberate misrepresentation of his ideas), Aristotle is a teleological (as opposed to “mechanistic”) philosopher, responsible for a “qualitative” (as opposed to quantitative) approach to physics that is thereby inadequately mathematical, whose metaphysical speculations, as absorbing as they continue to be even for contemporary and otherwise ahistorical analytical metaphysicians, are essentially devoid (...)
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  11. added 2019-12-12
    Mechanistic Causation: Difference-Making is Enough.Stathis Psillos & Stavros Ioannidis - 2019 - Teorema: International Journal of Philosophy 3 (38):53-75.
    In this paper we defend the view that mechanisms are underpinned by networks of difference-making relations. First, we distinguish and criticise two different kinds of arguments in favour of an activity-based understanding of mechanism: Glennan’s metaphysics- first approach and Illari and Williamson’s science-first approach. Second, we present an alternative difference-making view of mechanism and illustrate it by looking at the history of the case of scurvy prevention. We use the case of scurvy to argue that evidence for a mechanism just (...)
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  12. added 2019-11-25
    Flat Versus Dimensioned: The What and the How of Functional Realization.Ronald P. Endicott - 2011 - Journal of Philosophical Research 36:191-208.
    I resolve an argument over “flat” versus “dimensioned” theories of realization. The theories concern, in part, whether realized and realizing properties are instantiated by the same individual (the flat theory) or different individuals in a part-whole relationship (the dimensioned theory). Carl Gillett has argued that the two views conflict, and that flat theories should be rejected on grounds that they fail to capture scientific cases involving a dimensioned relation between individuals and their constituent parts. I argue on the contrary that (...)
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  13. added 2019-10-26
    Representational Unification in Cognitive Science: Is Embodied Cognition a Unifying Perspective?Marcin Miłkowski & Przemysław Nowakowski - forthcoming - Synthese.
    In this paper, we defend a novel, multidimensional account of representational unification, which we distinguish from integration. The dimensions of unity are simplicity, generality and scope, non-monstrosity, and systematization. In our account, unification is a graded property. The account is used to investigate the issue of how research traditions contribute to representational unification, focusing on embodied cognition in cognitive science. Embodied cognition contributes to unification even if it fails to offer a grand unification of cognitive science. The study of this (...)
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  14. added 2019-07-19
    Extended Cognition, The New Mechanists’ Mutual Manipulability Criterion, and The Challenge of Trivial Extendedness.Beate Krickel - 2020 - Mind and Language 35 (4):539–561.
    Many authors have turned their attention to the notion of constitution to determine whether the hypothesis of extended cognition (EC) is true. One common strategy is to make sense of constitution in terms of the new mechanists’ mutual manipulability account (MM). In this paper I will show that MM is insufficient. The Challenge of Trivial Extendedness arises due to the fact that mechanisms for cognitive behaviors are extended in a way that should not count as verifying EC. This challenge can (...)
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  15. added 2019-06-05
    On the Incompatibility of Dynamical Biological 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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  16. added 2019-05-15
    When Mechanisms Are Not Enough: The Origin of Eukaryotes and Scientific Explanation.Roger Deulofeu & Javier Suárez - 2018 - In Alexander Christian, David Hommen, Gerhard Schurz & N. Retzlaff (eds.), Philosophy of Science. European Studies in Philosophy of Science, vol 9. Dordrecht, Netherlands: pp. 95-115.
    The appeal to mechanisms in scientific explanation is commonplace in contemporary philosophy of science. In short, mechanists argue that an explanation of a phenomenon consists of citing the mechanism that brings the phenomenon about. In this paper, we present an argument that challenges the universality of mechanistic explanation: in explanations of the contemporary features of the eukaryotic cell, biologists appeal to its symbiogenetic origin and therefore the notion of symbiogenesis plays the main explanatory role. We defend the notion that symbiogenesis (...)
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  17. added 2019-04-09
    Re-Re-Reconciling the Epistemic and Ontic Views of Explanation: A Reply to Wright and van Eck.Benjamin Sheredos - manuscript
    In a recent article published in Ergo and entitled "Ontic explanation is either ontic or explanatory, but not both," Cory Wright and Dingmar van Eck have sought to undermine any ontic approach to explanation, providing three arguments to show that an epistemic approach is "the only game in town." I show that each of their arguments is straightforwardly question-begging. For brevity, I make my counter-arguments by showing how the claims of Sheredos (2016)-whom Wright & van Eck cite as an ally-undermine (...)
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  18. added 2019-03-05
    Ontic Explanation Is Either Ontic or Explanatory, but Not Both.Cory Wright & Dingmar van Eck - 2018 - Ergo: An Open Access Journal of Philosophy 5:997–1029.
    What features will something have if it counts as an explanation? And will something count as an explanation if it has those features? In the second half of the 20th century, philosophers of science set for themselves the task of answering such questions, just as a priori conceptual analysis was generally falling out of favor. And as it did, most philosophers of science just moved on to more manageable questions about the varieties of explanation and discipline-specific scientific explanation. Often, such (...)
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  19. added 2019-02-22
    The Narrow Ontic Counterfactual Account of Distinctively Mathematical Explanation.Mark Povich - 2019 - British Journal for the Philosophy of Science:axz008.
    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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  20. added 2019-02-22
    Minimal Models and the Generalized Ontic Conception of Scientific Explanation.Mark Povich - 2018 - British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 69 (1):117-137.
    Batterman and Rice ([2014]) argue that minimal models possess explanatory power that cannot be captured by what they call ‘common features’ approaches to explanation. Minimal models are explanatory, according to Batterman and Rice, not in virtue of accurately representing relevant features, but in virtue of answering three questions that provide a ‘story about why large classes of features are irrelevant to the explanandum phenomenon’ ([2014], p. 356). In this article, I argue, first, that a method (the renormalization group) they propose (...)
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  21. 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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  22. 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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  23. 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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  24. 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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  25. 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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  26. 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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  27. added 2018-10-22
    How to Explain Miscomputation.Chris Tucker - 2018 - Philosophers' Imprint 18:1-17.
    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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  28. added 2018-09-06
    Strategies of Explanatory Abstraction in Molecular Systems Biology.Nicholaos Jones - 2018 - Philosophy of Science 85 (5):955-968.
    I consider three explanatory strategies from recent systems biology that are driven by mathematics as much as mechanistic detail. Analysis of differential equations drives the first strategy; topological analysis of network motifs drives the second; mathematical theorems from control engineering drive the third. I also distinguish three abstraction types: aggregations, which simplify by condensing information; generalizations, which simplify by generalizing information; and structurations, which simplify by contextualizing information. Using a common explanandum as reference point—namely, the robust perfect adaptation of chemotaxis (...)
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  29. 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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  30. 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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  31. 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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  32. added 2018-01-17
    Social intelligence: How to integrate research? A mechanistic perspective.Marcin Miłkowski - 2019 - AI and Society 34 (4):735-744.
    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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  33. 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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  34. 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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  35. 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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  36. 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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  37. 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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  38. added 2017-04-18
    Grounding-Mechanical Explanation.Kelly Trogdon - 2018 - Philosophical Studies 175 (6):1289-1309.
    Characterization of a form of explanation involving grounding on the model of mechanistic causal explanation.
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  39. 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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  40. 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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  41. 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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  42. 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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  43. 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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  44. 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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  45. 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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  46. 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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  47. 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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  48. 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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  49. 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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  50. 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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