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Mechanistic Levels, Reduction, and Emergence

In Stuart Glennan & Phyllis McKay Illari (eds.), The Routledge Handbook of Mechanisms and Mechanical Philosophy. Routledge. pp. 185-97 (2017)

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  1. 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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  • Integrated-Structure Emergence and its Mechanistic Explanation.Gil Santos - 2020 - Synthese 198 (9):8687-8711.
    This paper proposes an integrated-structure notion of interlevel emergence, from a dynamic relational ontological perspective. First, I will argue that only the individualist essentialism of atomistic metaphysics can block the possibility of interlevel emergence. Then I will show that we can make sense of emergence by recognizing the formation of structures of transformative and interdependent causal relations in the generation and development of a particular class of mereological complexes called integrated systems. Finally, I shall argue that even though the emergent (...)
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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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  • Cognitive Dynamical Models as Minimal Models.Travis Holmes - 2020 - Synthese 199 (1-2):2353-2373.
    The debate over the explanatory nature of cognitive models has been waged mostly between two factions: the mechanists and the dynamical systems theorists. The former hold that cognitive models are explanatory only if they satisfy a set of mapping criteria, particularly the 3M/3m* requirement. The latter have argued, pace the mechanists, that some cognitive models are both dynamical and constitute covering-law explanations. In this paper, I provide a minimal model interpretation of dynamical cognitive models, arguing that this both provides needed (...)
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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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  • 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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