The Functional Sense of Mechanism

Philosophy of Science 80 (3):317-333 (2013)
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Abstract
This article presents a distinct sense of ‘mechanism’, which I call the functional sense of mechanism. According to this sense, mechanisms serve functions, and this fact places substantive restrictions on the kinds of system activities ‘for which’ there can be a mechanism. On this view, there are no mechanisms for pathology; pathologies result from disrupting mechanisms for functions. Second, on this sense, natural selection is probably not a mechanism for evolution because it does not serve a function. After distinguishing this sense fromsimilar explications of ‘mechanism’, I argue that it is ubiquitous in biology and has valuable epistemic benefits.
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Archival date: 2017-02-11
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References found in this work BETA
Thinking About Mechanisms.Machamer, Peter K.; Darden, Lindley & Craver, Carl F.
Functional Analysis.Cummins, Robert

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Citations of this work BETA
Evolution, Dysfunction, and Disease: A Reappraisal.Griffiths, Paul E. & Matthewson, John
From Wide Cognition to Mechanisms: A Silent Revolution.Miłkowski, Marcin; Clowes, Robert; Rucińska, Zuzanna; Przegalińska, Aleksandra; Zawidzki, Tadeusz; Krueger, Joel; Gies, Adam; McGann, Marek; Afeltowicz, Łukasz; Wachowski, Witold; Stjernberg, Fredrik; Loughlin, Victor & Hohol, Mateusz

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2013-10-29

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