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  1. Discovering Patterns: On the Norms of Mechanistic Inquiry.Lena Kästner & Philipp Haueis - 2021 - Erkenntnis 86 (6):1635-1660.
    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 Explanation in the special sciences: the case of biology and history, Springer, Dordrecht, pp 27–52, 2014) 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 (...)
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  • Corporeal composition.Stuart Glennan - 2021 - Synthese 198 (12):11439-11462.
    What is it for an individual thing in the natural world—a rock, a mouse, a family or a planet—to be made of other things—crystals, organs, animals, soil, water, or dirt? Rocks, mice, families and planets are composites, but how are we to understand the relation that holds between these composites and their component parts? My aim is to offer a new account of this relation, which I shall call corporeal composition. A central claim of my account is that corporeal composition (...)
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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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  • Applying mechanical philosophy to web science: The case of social machines.Paul R. Smart, Kieron O’Hara & Wendy Hall - 2021 - European Journal for Philosophy of Science 11 (3):1-29.
    Social machines are a prominent focus of attention for those who work in the field of Web and Internet science. Although a number of online systems have been described as social machines, there is, as yet, little consensus as to the precise meaning of the term “social machine.” This presents a problem for the scientific study of social machines, especially when it comes to the provision of a theoretical framework that directs, informs, and explicates the scientific and engineering activities of (...)
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  • Themen aus den Lebenswissenschaften.Marie I. Kaiser - 2017 - In M. Schrenk (ed.), Handbuch Metaphysik (German). Stuttgart: Metzler.
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  • What is an Animal Personality?Marie I. Kaiser & Caroline Müller - 2021 - Biology and Philosophy 36 (1):1-25.
    Individuals of many animal species are said to have a personality. It has been shown that some individuals are bolder than other individuals of the same species, or more sociable or more aggressive. In this paper, we analyse what it means to say that an animal has a personality. We clarify what an animal personality is, that is, its ontology, and how different personality concepts relate to each other, and we examine how personality traits are identified in biological practice. Our (...)
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  • Constitutive Relevance and Mutual Manipulability Revisited.Carl F. Craver, Stuart Glennan & Mark Povich - forthcoming - Synthese:1-22.
    An adequate understanding of the ubiquitous practice of mechanistic explanation requires an account of what Craver (2007) 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 (MM) account extended Woodward’s account of manipulationist counterfactuals to analyze how interlevel experiments establish constitutive relevance. Critics of MM (e.g., Baumgartner and Gebharter 2016 and Baumgartner and Casini 2017) argue that applying Woodward’s account to this philosophical problem (...)
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  • 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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  • 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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  • The mechanistic stance.Jonny Lee & Joe Dewhurst - 2021 - European Journal for Philosophy of Science 11 (1):1-21.
    It is generally acknowledged by proponents of ‘new mechanism’ that mechanistic explanation involves adopting a perspective, but there is less agreement on how we should understand this perspective-taking or what its implications are for practising science. This paper examines the perspectival nature of mechanistic explanation through the lens of the ‘mechanistic stance’, which falls somewhere between Dennett’s more familiar physical and design stance. We argue this approach implies three distinct and significant ways in which mechanistic explanation can be interpreted as (...)
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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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  • 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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  • Can Parts Cause Their Wholes?Toby Friend - 2018 - Synthese:1-22.
    Part–whole causation (PWC) is the thesis that some causes are part of their effects. PWC has been objected to because of its incompatibility with the criterion that causes not be spatially included within their effects and the criterion that causes and effects are ontologically distinct in some sense. This paper serves to undermine the sufficiency of these ways of objecting to PWC by showing that for each criterion either cause-effect relationships need not satisfy it or part–whole relationships can. A case-study (...)
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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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  • Forma y función de la explicación contrafáctica en la obra fisiológica de Ramón y Cajal.Sergio Daniel Barberis - 2020 - In Filosofía e Historia de la Ciencia en el Cono Sur. São Carlos, Estado de São Paulo, Brasil: pp. 72-83.
    En este trabajo sostengo que la concepción mecanicista no captura la relevancia explicativa de la ley de polarización dinámica de Cajal. La relevancia explicativa de la ley se fundamenta en su rol como principio de diseño neuronal. Como tal, la ley nos brinda acceso epistémico a intervenciones ideales, conceptualmente posibles, sobre la localización de los diversos componentes de los centros nerviosos, y nos permiten evaluar el impacto de esas intervenciones sobre las condiciones de viabilidad del organismo.
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  • Cajal’s Law of Dynamic Polarization: Mechanism and Design.Sergio Barberis - 2018 - Philosophies 3 (2):11-0.
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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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  • Let Me Make You Happy, and I'll Tell You How You Look Around: Using an Approach-Avoidance Task as an Embodied Emotion Prime in a Free-Viewing Task.Artur Czeszumski, Friederike Albers, Sven Walter & Peter König - 2021 - Frontiers in Psychology 12.
    The embodied approach of human cognition suggests that concepts are deeply dependent upon and constrained by an agent's physical body's characteristics, such as performed body movements. In this study, we attempted to broaden previous research on emotional priming, investigating the interaction of emotions and visual exploration. We used the joystick-based approach-avoidance task to influence the emotional states of participants, and subsequently, we presented pictures of news web pages on a computer screen and measured participant's eye movements. As a result, the (...)
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  • Mechanisms and Relations.Michele Paolini Paoletti - 2018 - Erkenntnis 86 (1):95-111.
    Mechanisms are organized collections of objects and activities that underlie certain phenomena/behaviours. In this article, I shall argue that the organizations of mechanisms should be thought of as external relations, namely, as relations that do not entirely depend on their relata’s existence, nor on their natures, nor on their intrinsic properties. After having introduced in the first two sections mechanisms and the ontology of relations, I shall analyse the organizations of mechanisms along four different dimensions: spatial, temporal, causal and hierarchical. (...)
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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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  • Are More Details Better? On the Norms of Completeness for Mechanistic Explanations.Carl F. Craver & David M. Kaplan - 2020 - British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 71 (1):287-319.
    Completeness is an important but misunderstood norm of explanation. It has recently been argued that mechanistic accounts of scientific explanation are committed to the thesis that models are complete only if they describe everything about a mechanism and, as a corollary, that incomplete models are always improved by adding more details. If so, mechanistic accounts are at odds with the obvious and important role of abstraction in scientific modelling. We respond to this characterization of the mechanist’s views about abstraction and (...)
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  • 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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  • Children and Adults Selectively Generalize Mechanistic Knowledge.Aaron Chuey, Kristi Lockhart, Mark Sheskin & Frank Keil - 2020 - Cognition 199:104231.
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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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