In Defense of Methodological Mechanism: The Case of Apoptosis

Axiomathes 27 (6):601-619 (2017)
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This paper advances the thesis of methodological mechanism, the claim that to be committed to mechanism is to adopt a certain methodological postulate, i.e. to look for causal pathways for the phenomena of interest. We argue that methodological mechanism incorporates a minimal account of understanding mechanisms, according to which a mechanism just is a causal pathway described in the language of theory. In order to argue for this position we discuss a central example of a biological mechanism, the mechanism of cell death, known as apoptosis. We argue that this example shows that our philosophically deflationary account is sufficient in order to have an illuminating account of mechanisms as the concept is used in biology.
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Archival date: 2017-11-13
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