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  1. Identifying Causes in Psychiatry.Lena Kästner - unknown
    Explanations in psychiatry often integrate various factors relevant to psychopathology. Identifying genuine causes among them is theoretically and clinically important, but epistemically challenging. Woodward’s interventionism appears to provide a promising tool to achieve this. However, Woodward’s interventionism is too demanding to be applied to psychiatry. I thus introduce difference-making interventionism, which detects relevance in general rather than causation, to make interventionist reasoning viable in clinical practice. DMI mirrors the empirical reality of psychiatry even more closely than interventionism, but it needs (...)
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  • Flat mechanisms: a reductionist approach to levels in mechanistic explanations.Peter Fazekas - forthcoming - Philosophical Studies:1-19.
    The mechanistic framework traditionally comes bundled with a multi-level view. Some ascribe ontological weight to these levels, whereas others claim that characterising a higher-level entity and the corresponding lower-level mechanism are only different descriptions of the same thing. The goal of this paper is to develop a consistent metaphysical picture that can underly the latter position. According to this flat view, wholes and their parts are embedded in the same network of interacting units. The flat view preserves the original virtues (...)
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  • Intervening Into Mechanisms: Prospects and Challenges.Lena Kästner & Lise Marie Andersen - 2018 - Philosophy Compass 13 (11):e12546.
    In contemporary philosophy of science, the consensus view seems to be that scientific explanations describe mechanisms responsible for the phenomena to be explained. Two kinds of explanatory relevance figure in mechanistic accounts of explanation: causal and constitutive. Following prominent accounts, it seems natural to analyze both these relations in terms of systematic interventions into some factor X with respect to another factor Y. However, such interventions are tailored to uncover causal relations only. Construing the constitutive relationship between parts and wholes (...)
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  • Merleau-Ponty’s Implicit Critique of the New Mechanists.Benjamin Sheredos - 2018 - Synthese (Suppl 9):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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  • Manipulation is Key: On Why Non-Mechanistic Explanations in the Cognitive Sciences Also Describe Relations of Manipulation and Control.Lotem Elber-Dorozko - 2018 - Synthese 195 (12):5319-5337.
    A popular view presents explanations in the cognitive sciences as causal or mechanistic and argues that an important feature of such explanations is that they allow us to manipulate and control the explanandum phenomena. Nonetheless, whether there can be explanations in the cognitive sciences that are neither causal nor mechanistic is still under debate. Another prominent view suggests that both causal and non-causal relations of counterfactual dependence can be explanatory, but this view is open to the criticism that it is (...)
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  • A Defence of Manipulationist Noncausal Explanation: The Case for Intervention Liberalism.Nicholas Emmerson - forthcoming - Erkenntnis.
    Recent years have seen growing interest in modifying interventionist accounts of causal explanation in order to characterise noncausal explanation. However, one surprising element of such accounts is that they have typically jettisoned the core feature of interventionism: interventions. Indeed, the prevailing opinion within the philosophy of science literature suggests that interventions exclusively demarcate causal relationships. This position is so prevalent that, until now, no one has even thought to name it. We call it “intervention puritanism” (I-puritanism, for short). In this (...)
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  • Constitutive Relevance & Mutual Manipulability Revisited.Carl F. Craver, Stuart Glennan & Mark Povich - 2021 - Synthese 199 (3-4):8807-8828.
    An adequate understanding of the ubiquitous practice of mechanistic explanation requires an account of what Craver termed “constitutive relevance.” Entities or activities are constitutively relevant to a phenomenon when they are parts of the mechanism responsible for that phenomenon. Craver’s mutual manipulability account extended Woodward’s account of manipulationist counterfactuals to analyze how interlevel experiments establish constitutive relevance. Critics of MM argue that applying Woodward’s account to this philosophical problem conflates causation and constitution, thus rendering the account incoherent. These criticisms, we (...)
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  • The Methodological Role of Mechanistic-Computational Models in Cognitive Science.Jens Harbecke - 2020 - Synthese 199 (Suppl 1):19-41.
    This paper discusses the relevance of models for cognitive science that integrate mechanistic and computational aspects. Its main hypothesis is that a model of a cognitive system is satisfactory and explanatory to the extent that it bridges phenomena at multiple mechanistic levels, such that at least several of these mechanistic levels are shown to implement computational processes. The relevant parts of the computation must be mapped onto distinguishable entities and activities of the mechanism. The ideal is contrasted with two other (...)
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  • Diachronic Causal Constitutive Relations.Bert Leuridan & Thomas Lodewyckx - 2020 - Synthese (9):1-31.
    Mechanistic approaches are very common in the causal interpretation of biological and neuroscientific experimental work in today’s philosophy of science. In the mechanistic literature a strict distinction is often made between causal relations and constitutive relations, where the latter cannot be causal. One of the typical reasons for this strict distinction is that constitutive relations are supposedly synchronic whereas most if not all causal relations are diachronic. This strict distinction gives rise to a number of problems, however. Our end goal (...)
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  • The Ups and Downs of Mechanism Realism: Functions, Levels, and Crosscutting Hierarchies.Joe Dewhurst & Alistair M. C. Isaac - forthcoming - Erkenntnis:1-23.
    Mechanism realists assert the existence of mechanisms as objective structures in the world, but their exact metaphysical commitments are unclear. We introduce Local Hierarchy Realism as a substantive and plausible form of mechanism realism. The limits of LHR reveal a deep tension between two aspects of mechanists’ explanatory strategy. Functional decomposition identifies locally relevant entities and activities, while these same entities and activities are also embedded in a nested hierarchy of levels. In principle, a functional decomposition may identify entities engaging (...)
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  • The Causal Situationist Account of Constitutive Relevance.Emily Prychitko - 2019 - Synthese 198 (2):1829-1843.
    An epistemic account of constitutive relevance lists the criteria by which scientists can identify the components of mechanisms in empirical practice. Three prominent claims from Craver form a promising basis for an account. First, constitutive relevance is established by means of interlevel experiments. Second, interlevel experiments are executions of interventions. Third, there is no interlevel causation between a mechanism and its components. Currently, no account on offer respects all three claims. I offer my causal situationist account of constitutive relevance that (...)
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  • Constitutive Relevance in Interlevel Experiments.Maria Serban & Sune Holm - 2020 - British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 71 (2):697-725.
    One reason for the popularity of Craver’s mutual manipulability account of constitutive relevance is that it seems to make good sense of the experimental practices and constitutive reasoning in the life sciences. Two recent papers propose a theoretical alternative to in light of several important conceptual objections. Their alternative approach, the no de-coupling account, conceives of constitution as a dependence relation that once postulated provides the best explanation of the impossibility of breaking the common cause coupling of a macro-level mechanism (...)
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  • Reply to Cartwright, Pemberton, Wieten: “Mechanisms, Laws and Explanation”.Beate Krickel - 2020 - European Journal for Philosophy of Science 10 (3):1-9.
    Cartwright et al. in European Journal for Philosophy of Science, 10 and the new mechanists agree that regular behaviors described in cp laws are generated by mechanisms. However, there is disagreement with regard to the two questions that Cartwright at al. ask: the epistemological question and the ontological question. Most importantly, Cartwright et al. argue that the explanation involved is a CL-explanation, while the new mechanists insist that mechanistic explanation and CL-explanation are competitors. In this reply, I will highlight some (...)
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  • Intervening on Time Derivatives.Toby Friend - 2021 - Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part A 89:74-83.
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  • Mechanisms, laws and explanation.Nancy Cartwright, John Pemberton & Sarah Wieten - 2020 - European Journal for Philosophy of Science 10 (3):1-19.
    Mechanisms are now taken widely in philosophy of science to provide one of modern science’s basic explanatory devices. This has raised lively debate concerning the relationship between mechanisms, laws and explanation. This paper focuses on cases where a mechanism gives rise to a ceteris paribus law, addressing two inter-related questions: What kind of explanation is involved? and What is going on in the world when mechanism M affords behavior B described in a ceteris paribus law? We explore various answers offered (...)
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  • Two Challenges for a Boolean Approach to Constitutive Inference.Jens Harbecke - 2018 - European Journal for Philosophy of Science 9 (1):17.
    This paper discusses two challenges for a Boolean method for establishing constitutive regularity statements which, according to the regularity theory of mechanistic constitution, form the core of any mechanistic explanation in neuroscience. After presenting the regularity definition for the constitution relation and a methodology for constitutive inference, the paper discusses the problem of full variation of tested mechanistic factors and the problem of informational redundancy. A solution is offered for each problem. The first requires some adjustments to the original theory (...)
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  • 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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  • The Unity of Neuroscience: A Flat View.Arnon Levy - 2016 - Synthese 193 (12):3843-3863.
    This paper offers a novel view of unity in neuroscience. I set out by discussing problems with the classical account of unity-by-reduction, due to Oppenheim and Putnam. That view relies on a strong notion of levels, which has substantial problems. A more recent alternative, the mechanistic “mosaic” view due to Craver, does not have such problems. But I argue that the mosaic ideal of unity is too minimal, and we should, if possible, aspire for more. Relying on a number of (...)
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  • Uncovering Constitutive Relevance Relations in Mechanisms.Alexander Gebharter - 2017 - Philosophical Studies 174 (11):2645-2666.
    In this paper I argue that constitutive relevance relations in mechanisms behave like a special kind of causal relation in at least one important respect: Under suitable circumstances constitutive relevance relations produce the Markov factorization. Based on this observation one may wonder whether standard methods for causal discovery could be fruitfully applied to uncover constitutive relevance relations. This paper is intended as a first step into this new area of philosophical research. I investigate to what extent the PC algorithm, originally (...)
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  • The Network Theory of Psychiatric Disorders: A Critical Assessment of the Inclusion of Environmental Factors.Nina S. de Boer, Leon C. de Bruin, Jeroen J. G. Geurts & Gerrit Glas - 2021 - Frontiers in Psychology 12.
    Borsboom and colleagues have recently proposed a “network theory” of psychiatric disorders that conceptualizes psychiatric disorders as relatively stable networks of causally interacting symptoms. They have also claimed that the network theory should include non-symptom variables such as environmental factors. How are environmental factors incorporated in the network theory, and what kind of explanations of psychiatric disorders can such an “extended” network theory provide? The aim of this article is to critically examine what explanatory strategies the network theory that includes (...)
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  • A Causal Bayes Net Analysis of Glennan’s Mechanistic Account of Higher-Level Causation.Alexander Gebharter - 2019 - British Journal for the Philosophy of Science:axz034.
    One of Stuart Glennan's most prominent contributions to the new mechanist debate consists in his reductive analysis of higher-level causation in terms of mechanisms (Glennan, 1996). In this paper I employ the causal Bayes net framework to reconstruct his analysis. This allows for specifying general assumptions which have to be satis ed to get Glennan's approach working. I show that once these assumptions are in place, they imply (against the background of the causal Bayes net machinery) that higher-level causation indeed (...)
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  • 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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  • Constitution and Causal Roles.Lorenzo Casini & Michael Baumgartner - unknown
    Alexander Gebharter has recently proposed to use Bayesian network causal discovery methods to identify the constitutive dependencies that underwrite mechanistic explanations. The proposal depends on using the assumptions of the causal Bayesian network framework to implicitly define mechanistic constitution as a kind of deterministic direct causal dependence. The aim of this paper is twofold. In the first half, we argue that Gebharter’s proposal incurs severe conceptual problems. In the second half, we present an alternative way to bring Bayesian network tools (...)
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  • 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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  • 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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  • Is It Possible to Experimentally Determine the Extension of Cognition?Michael Baumgartner & Wendy Wilutzky - 2017 - Philosophical Psychology 30 (8):1104-1125.
    Various analytical tools originally developed for theories of mechanistic explanation have recently been imported into the ongoing debate on the hypothesis of extended cognition. One such tool that appears particularly relevant to that debate is Craver’s mutual manipulability account of constitution, most of all because it promises to settle the debate on experimental grounds. This paper investigates whether it is possible to deliver on that promise. We first find that, far from grounding an experimental evaluation of HEC, MM is conceptually (...)
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  • Rethinking the Explanatory Power of Dynamical Models in Cognitive Science.Dingmar van Eck - 2018 - Philosophical Psychology 31 (8):1131-1161.
    ABSTRACTIn this paper I offer an interventionist perspective on the explanatory structure and explanatory power of dynamical models in cognitive science: I argue that some “pure” dynamical models – ones that do not refer to mechanisms at all – in cognitive science are “contextualized causal models” and that this explanatory structure gives such models genuine explanatory power. I contrast this view with several other perspectives on the explanatory power of “pure” dynamical models. One of the main results is that dynamical (...)
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