Mechanistic explanation: asymmetry lost

In Dennis Dieks & Vassilios Karakostas (eds.), Recent Progress in Philosophy of Science: Perspectives and Foundational Problems. Springer (2013)
  Copy   BIBTEX


In a recent book and an article, Carl Craver construes the relations between different levels of a mechanism, which he also refers to as constitutive relations, in terms of mutual manipulability (MM). Interpreted metaphysically, MM implies that inter-level relations are symmetrical. MM thus violates one of the main desiderata of scientific explanation, namely explanatory asymmetry. Parts of Craver’s writings suggest a metaphysical interpretation of MM, and Craver explicitly commits to constitutive relationships being symmetrical. The paper furthermore explores the option of interpreting MM epistemologically, as a means for individuating mechanisms. It is argued that MM then is redundant. MM should therefore better be abandoned.

Author's Profile

Samuel Schindler
Aarhus University


Added to PP

670 (#24,432)

6 months
110 (#41,132)

Historical graph of downloads since first upload
This graph includes both downloads from PhilArchive and clicks on external links on PhilPapers.
How can I increase my downloads?