The Metaphysics of Constitutive Mechanistic Phenomena

British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 68 (3) (2017)
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Abstract

The central aim of this article is to specify the ontological nature of constitutive mechanistic phenomena. After identifying three criteria of adequacy that any plausible approach to constitutive mechanistic phenomena must satisfy, we present four different suggestions, found in the mechanistic literature, of what mechanistic phenomena might be. We argue that none of these suggestions meets the criteria of adequacy. According to our analysis, constitutive mechanistic phenomena are best understood as what we will call ‘object-involving occurrents’. Furthermore, on the basis of this notion, we will clarify what distinguishes constitutive mechanistic explanations from etiological ones. 1 Introduction 2 Criteria of Adequacy 2.1 Descriptive adequacy 2.2 Constitutive–etiological distinction 2.3 Constitution 3 The Ontological Nature of Constitutive Mechanistic Phenomena 3.1 Phenomena as input–output relations 3.2 Phenomena as end states 3.3 Phenomena as dispositions 3.4 Phenomena as behaviours 4 Phenomena as Object-Involving Occurrents 4.1 What object-involving occurrents are and why we need them 4.2 The object in the phenomenon 4.3 The adequacy of option 5 Conclusion.

Author Profiles

Beate Krickel
Technische Universität Berlin
Marie I. Kaiser
Bielefeld University

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