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  1. A Mechanistic Guide to Reductive Physicalism.Tudor M. Baetu - 2022 - European Journal for Philosophy of Science 12 (4):1-21.
    Causal mediation mechanisms are well supported by available experimental evidence and provide a practicable way to reductive physicalism. According to the causal mediation account of mechanistic explanation, descriptions as diverse as ‘black-box’ phenomena, mechanistic sketches and schemas mixing physically interpreted and operationalized biological, psychological and social variables, and detailed descriptions of mechanisms refer to the same causal structure circumscribed within the spatiotemporal boundaries of a replicable experimental setup. The coreference of coarser- and finer-grained descriptions of causal structures opens new possibilities (...)
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  • Phenomenal Transparency and the Extended Mind.Paul Smart, Gloria Andrada & Robert William Clowes - 2022 - Synthese 200 (4):1-25.
    Proponents of the extended mind have suggested that phenomenal transparency may be important to the way we evaluate putative cases of cognitive extension. In particular, it has been suggested that in order for a bio-external resource to count as part of the machinery of the mind, it must qualify as a form of transparent equipment or transparent technology. The present paper challenges this claim. It also challenges the idea that phenomenological properties can be used to settle disputes regarding the constitutional (...)
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  • Minds in the Metaverse: Extended Cognition Meets Mixed Reality.Paul Smart - 2022 - Philosophy and Technology 35 (4):1–29.
    Examples of extended cognition typically involve the use of technologically low-grade bio-external resources. The present paper describes a putative case of extended cognizing based around a technologically advanced mixed reality device, namely, the Microsoft HoloLens. The case is evaluated from the standpoint of a mechanistic perspective. In particular, it is suggested that a combination of organismic and extra-organismic resources form part of a common mechanism that realizes a bona fide cognitive routine. In addition to demonstrating how the theoretical resources of (...)
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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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  • Constitutivity in Flavour Perception.Błażej Skrzypulec - forthcoming - Erkenntnis:1-22.
    Within contemporary philosophy of perception, it is commonly claimed that flavour experiences are paradigmatic examples of multimodal perceptual experiences. In fact, virtually any sensory system, including vision and audition, is believed to influence how we experience flavours. However, there is a strong intuition, often expressed in these works, that not all of these sensory systems make an equal contribution to the phenomenology of flavour experiences. More specifically, it seems that the activities of some sensory systems are constitutive for flavour perception (...)
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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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  • Mechanisms and Relations.Michele Paolini Paoletti - 2021 - 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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  • 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 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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  • 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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  • 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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  • 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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  • A Regularist Approach to Mechanistic Type-Level Explanation.Beate Krickel - 2018 - British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 69 (4):1123-1153.
    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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  • 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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  • ENCODE and the Parts of the Human Genome.Marie I. Kaiser - 2018 - Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part C: Studies in History and Philosophy of Biological and Biomedical Sciences 72:28-37.
    This paper examines a specific kind of part-whole relations that exist in the molecular genetic domain. The central question is under which conditions a particular molecule, such as a DNA sequence, is a biological part of the human genome. I address this question by analyzing how biologists in fact partition the human genome into parts. This paper thus presents a case study in the metaphysics of biological practice. I develop a metaphysical account of genomic parthood by analyzing the investigative and (...)
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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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  • Preventive and Curative Medical Interventions.Jonathan Fuller - 2022 - Synthese 200 (2):1-24.
    Medical interventions that cure or prevent medical conditions are central to medicine; and thus, understanding them is central to our understanding of medicine. My purpose in this paper is to explore the conceptual foundations of medicine by providing a singular analysis of the concept of a ‘preventive or curative medical intervention’. Borrowing a general account of prevention from Phil Dowe, I provide an analysis of prevention, cure, risk reduction, and a preventive or curative intervention, before turning to preventive and curative (...)
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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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  • Flat mechanisms: a reductionist approach to levels in mechanistic explanations.Peter Fazekas - 2022 - Philosophical Studies 179 (7):2303-2321.
    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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  • Are Higher Mechanistic Levels Causally Autonomous?Peter Fazekas & Gergely Kertesz - 2019 - Philosophy of Science 86 (5):847-857.
    This article 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 article 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 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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  • 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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  • A Prototypical Conceptualization of Mechanisms.Bryon Cunningham - 2021 - Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part A 85:79-91.
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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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  • 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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  • Computational Modelling for Alcohol Use Disorder.Matteo Colombo - forthcoming - Erkenntnis:1-21.
    In this paper, I examine Reinforcement Learning modelling practice in psychiatry, in the context of alcohol use disorders. I argue that the epistemic roles RL currently plays in the development of psychiatric classification and search for explanations of clinically relevant phenomena are best appreciated in terms of Chang’s account of epistemic iteration, and by distinguishing mechanistic and aetiological modes of computational explanation.
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  • Children and Adults Selectively Generalize Mechanistic Knowledge.Aaron Chuey, Kristi Lockhart, Mark Sheskin & Frank Keil - 2020 - Cognition 199 (C):104231.
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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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  • Cajal’s Law of Dynamic Polarization: Mechanism and Design.Sergio Daniel Barberis - 2018 - Philosophies 3 (2):11-0.
    Santiago Ramón y Cajal, the primary architect of the neuron doctrine and the law of dynamic polarization, is considered to be the founder of modern neuroscience. At the same time, many philosophers, historians, and neuroscientists agree that modern neuroscience embodies a mechanistic perspective on the explanation of the nervous system. In this paper, I review the extant mechanistic interpretation of Cajal’s contribution to modern neuroscience. Then, I argue that the extant mechanistic interpretation fails to capture the explanatory import of Cajal’s (...)
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  • 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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  • 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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  • Themen aus den Lebenswissenschaften.Marie I. Kaiser - 2017 - In M. Schrenk (ed.), Handbuch Metaphysik (German). Stuttgart: Metzler.
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  • Explanation in Evo-Devo.Marie I. Kaiser - 2021 - In L. N. de la Rosa & G. B. Müller (eds.), Evolutionary Developmental Biology - A Reference Guide. Cham: Springer.
    Evo-devo is a multidisciplinary field that investigates the interplay between evolutionary and developmental processes and brings together different kinds of explanatory strategies. This chapter examines the structure of paradigmatic explanations in evo-devo (e.g., the explanation of the origin of an evolutionary novelty) and raises philosophical questions about explanation in evo-devo. Much research in evo-devo is concerned with studying the developmental mechanisms that constrain and facilitate phenotypic evolution, which suggests that a distinctive feature of evo-devo is that it constructs mechanistic explanations. (...)
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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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