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  1. A New Look at ‘Levels of Organization’ in Biology.Daniel S. Brooks - 2019 - Erkenntnis 2019 (6).
    Despite its pervasiveness, the concept of ‘levels of organization’ has received relatively little attention in its own right. I propose here an emerging approach that posits ‘levels’ as a fragmentary concept situated within an interest-relative matrix of operational usage within scientific practice. To this end I propose one important component of meaning, namely the epistemic goal motivating the term’s usage, which recovers a remarkably conserved and sufficiently unifying significance attributable to ‘levels’ across different instances of usage. This epistemic goal, to (...)
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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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  • Mechanisms, Experiments, and Theory-Ladenness: A Realist–Perspectivalist View.Marco Buzzoni - 2016 - Axiomathes 26 (4):411-427.
    The terms “perspectivism” and “perspectivalism” have been the focus of an intense philosophical discussion with important repercussions for the debate about the role of mechanisms in scientific explanations. However, leading exponents of the new mechanistic philosophy have conceded more than was necessary to the radically subjectivistic perspectivalism, and fell into the opposite error, by retaining not negligible residues of objectivistic views about mechanisms. In order to remove this vacillation between the subjective-cultural and the objective-natural sides of mechanisms, we shall raise (...)
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  • A Dilemma for Determination Pluralism (or Dualism).Ragnar van der Merwe - 2021 - Axiomathes 31 (4):507-523.
    Douglas Edwards is arguably the most prominent contemporary advocate of moderate alethic pluralism. Significantly influenced by Crispin Wright and Michael Lynch, his work on the nature of truth has become widely discussed in the topical literature. Edwards labels his version of moderate alethic pluralism determination pluralism. At first blush, determination pluralism appears philosophically promising. The position deserves thoughtful consideration, particularly because of its capacity to accommodate the scope problem. I argue, however, that upon analysis the view is better understood as (...)
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  • Typology and Natural Kinds in Evo-Devo.Ingo Brigandt - 2021 - In Laura Nuño De La Rosa & Gerd Müller (eds.), Evolutionary Developmental Biology: A Reference Guide. Cham: Springer. pp. 483-493.
    The traditional practice of establishing morphological types and investigating morphological organization has found new support from evolutionary developmental biology (evo-devo), especially with respect to the notion of body plans. Despite recurring claims that typology is at odds with evolutionary thinking, evo-devo offers mechanistic explanations of the evolutionary origin, transformation, and evolvability of morphological organization. In parallel, philosophers have developed non-essentialist conceptions of natural kinds that permit kinds to exhibit variation and undergo change. This not only facilitates a construal of species (...)
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  • How Should We Select Conceptual Content for Biology High School Curricula?Ítalo Nascimento de Carvalho, Charbel N. El-Hani & Nei Nunes-Neto - 2020 - Science & Education 29 (3):513-547.
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  • 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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  • In Defense of Levels: Layer Cakes and Guilt by Association.Daniel Brooks - 2017 - Biological Theory 12 (3).
    Despite the ubiquity of “levels of organization” in the scientific literature, a nascent “levels skepticism” now claims that the concept of levels is an inherently flawed, misleading, or otherwise inadequate notion for understanding how life scientists produce knowledge about the natural world. However, levels skeptics rely on the maligned “layer-cake” account of levels stemming from Oppenheim and Putnam’s defense of the unity of science for their critical commentary. Recourse to layer-cake levels is understandable, as it is arguably the default conception (...)
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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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  • Time Scales and Levels of Organization.James DiFrisco - 2017 - Erkenntnis 82 (4):795-818.
    The concept of levels of organization, despite its widespread scientific currency, has recently been criticized by a number of philosophers of science. This paper diagnoses the main source of problems facing theories of levels. On this basis, the problems with the usual criteria for distinguishing levels are evaluated: compositional relations, organizational types, and spatial scales. Drawing on some work on hierarchies in ecology, I argue in favor of an alternative conception of levels defined by the criterion of rates or time (...)
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  • Disciplinary Fields in the Life Sciences: Evolving Divides and Anchor Concepts.Alessandro Minelli - 2020 - Philosophies 5 (34):34-0.
    Recent and ongoing debates in biology and in the philosophy of biology reveal widespread dissatisfaction with the current definitions or circumscriptions, which are often vague or controversial, of key concepts such as the gene, individual, species, and homology, and even of whole disciplinary fields within the life sciences. To some extent, the long growing awareness of these conceptual issues and the contrasting views defended in their regard can be construed as a symptom of the need to revisit traditional unchallenged partitions (...)
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  • A Prototypical Conceptualization of Mechanisms.Bryon Cunningham - 2021 - Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part A 85:79-91.
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  • Limiting the explanatory scope of extended active inference: the implications of a causal pattern analysis of selective niche construction, developmental niche construction, and organism-niche coordination dynamics.Regina E. Fabry - 2021 - Biology and Philosophy 36 (1):1-26.
    Research in evolutionary biology and philosophy of biology and cognition strongly suggests that human organisms modify their environment through active processes of niche construction. Recently, proponents of the free-energy principle and variational active inference have argued that their approach can deepen our understanding of the reciprocal causal relationship between organisms and their niche on various scales. This paper examines the feasibility and scope of variational formalisations and conceptualisations of the organism-niche nexus with a particular focus on the extended active inference (...)
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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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  • Mechanistic Levels, Reduction, and Emergence.Mark Povich & Carl F. Craver - 2017 - In Stuart Glennan & Phyllis McKay Illari (eds.), The Routledge Handbook of Mechanisms and Mechanical Philosophy. Routledge. pp. 185-97.
    We sketch the mechanistic approach to levels, contrast it with other senses of “level,” and explore some of its metaphysical implications. This perspective allows us to articulate what it means for things to be at different levels, to distinguish mechanistic levels from realization relations, and to describe the structure of multilevel explanations, the evidence by which they are evaluated, and the scientific unity that results from them. This approach is not intended to solve all metaphysical problems surrounding physicalism. Yet it (...)
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  • Multiple Realization, Levels and Mechanisms.Sergio Daniel Barberis - 2017 - Teorema: International Journal of Philosophy 36 (2):53-68.
    This paper focuses on the framework for the compositional relations of properties in the sciences, or "realization relations", offered by Ken Aizawa and Carl Gillett (A&G) in a series of papers, and in particular on the analysis of "multiple realizations" they build upon it. I argue that A&G's analysis of multiple realization requires an account of levels and I try to show, then, that the A&G framework is not successful under any of the extant accounts of levels. There is consequently (...)
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  • Model-Based Cognitive Neuroscience: Multifield Mechanistic Integration in Practice.Mark Povich - 2019 - Theory & Psychology 5 (29):640–656.
    Autonomist accounts of cognitive science suggest that cognitive model building and theory construction (can or should) proceed independently of findings in neuroscience. Common functionalist justifications of autonomy rely on there being relatively few constraints between neural structure and cognitive function (e.g., Weiskopf, 2011). In contrast, an integrative mechanistic perspective stresses the mutual constraining of structure and function (e.g., Piccinini & Craver, 2011; Povich, 2015). In this paper, I show how model-based cognitive neuroscience (MBCN) epitomizes the integrative mechanistic perspective and concentrates (...)
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  • Searching for a Mind's Brain: Questioning Underlying Biophilosophical Assumptions.J. Korf - 2017 - Dialogues in Philosophy, Mental and Neuro Sciences 10 (1).
    This article assesses the applicability of a number of biological and neurobiological concepts to biophilosophical concepts of life and mind. Life, as instantiated by viable cells and organisms, is considered as a prerequisite of mind. Views such as embodied cognition, external mind or scaffolding theories were ignored. The biological characteristics of life and mind that are in particular relevant in the present context are: reversibility and irreversibility of brain processes, distinction between metabolic and potential brain energy, and the continuous turnover (...)
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  • Are Higher Mechanistic Levels Causally Autonomous?Peter Fazekas & Gergely Kertesz - forthcoming - Philosophy of Science.
    This paper provides a detailed analysis and explores the prospects of the arguments for higher-level causal autonomy available for the proponents of the mechanistic framework. Three different arguments are distinguished. After clarifying previously raised worries with regard to the first two arguments, the paper focuses on the newest version of the third argument that has recently been revived by William Bechtel. By using Bechtel’s own case study, it is shown that not even reference to constraints can establish the causal autonomy (...)
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  • The Layer Cake Model of the World and Non-Reductive Physicalism.Matthew Baxendale - 2016 - Kriterion - Journal of Philosophy 30 (1):39-60.
    In this paper I argue that non-reductive physicalism (NRP) continues to rely on the ontological aspect of the layer cake model of the world (LCM). NRP is a post-unity account of the relationship between phenomena in the world in the sense that it has been developed in response to the perceived failure of the unity of science thesis. The LCM constitutes a framework for the organisation of phenomena in the world. It articulates the idea that phenomena in the world are (...)
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  • Levels of Organization in Biology.Markus Eronen & Daniel Stephen Brooks - unknown - Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy.
    Levels of organization are structures in nature, usually defined by part-whole relationships, with things at higher levels being composed of things at the next lower level. Typical levels of organization that one finds in the literature include the atomic, molecular, cellular, tissue, organ, organismal, group, population, community, ecosystem, landscape, and biosphere levels. References to levels of organization and related hierarchical depictions of nature are prominent in the life sciences and their philosophical study, and appear not only in introductory textbooks and (...)
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