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Holly Andersen
Simon Fraser University
  1. The Case for Regularity in Mechanistic Causal Explanation.Holly Andersen - 2012 - Synthese 189 (3):415-432.
    How regular do mechanisms need to be, in order to count as mechanisms? This paper addresses two arguments for dropping the requirement of regularity from the definition of a mechanism, one motivated by examples from the sciences and the other motivated by metaphysical considerations regarding causation. I defend a broadened regularity requirement on mechanisms that takes the form of a taxonomy of kinds of regularity that mechanisms may exhibit. This taxonomy allows precise explication of the degree and location of regular (...)
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  2. Mechanisms: What Are They Evidence for in Evidence-Based Medicine?Holly Andersen - 2012 - Journal of Evaluation in Clinical Practice 18 (5):992-999.
    Even though the evidence‐based medicine movement (EBM) labels mechanisms a low quality form of evidence, consideration of the mechanisms on which medicine relies, and the distinct roles that mechanisms might play in clinical practice, offers a number of insights into EBM itself. In this paper, I examine the connections between EBM and mechanisms from several angles. I diagnose what went wrong in two examples where mechanistic reasoning failed to generate accurate predictions for how a dysfunctional mechanism would respond to intervention. (...)
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  3. A Field Guide to Mechanisms: Part I.Holly Andersen - 2014 - Philosophy Compass 9 (4):274-283.
    In this field guide, I distinguish five separate senses with which the term ‘mechanism’ is used in contemporary philosophy of science. Many of these senses have overlapping areas of application but involve distinct philosophical claims and characterize the target mechanisms in relevantly different ways. This field guide will clarify the key features of each sense and introduce some main debates, distinguishing those that transpire within a given sense from those that are best understood as concerning distinct senses. The ‘new mechanisms’ (...)
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  4. Complements, Not Competitors: Causal and Mathematical Explanations.Holly Andersen - 2017 - British Journal for the Philosophy of Science:axw023.
    A finer-grained delineation of a given explanandum reveals a nexus of closely related causal and non- causal explanations, complementing one another in ways that yield further explanatory traction on the phenomenon in question. By taking a narrower construal of what counts as a causal explanation, a new class of distinctively mathematical explanations pops into focus; Lange’s characterization of distinctively mathematical explanations can be extended to cover these. This new class of distinctively mathematical explanations is illustrated with the Lotka-Volterra equations. There (...)
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  5. Patterns, Information, and Causation.Holly Andersen - 2017 - Journal of Philosophy 114 (11):592-622.
    This paper articulates an account of causation as a collection of information-theoretic relationships between patterns instantiated in the causal nexus. I draw on Dennett’s account of real patterns to characterize potential causal relata as patterns with specific identification criteria and noise tolerance levels, and actual causal relata as those patterns instantiated at some spatiotemporal location in the rich causal nexus as originally developed by Salmon. I develop a representation framework using phase space to precisely characterize causal relata, including their degree (...)
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  6. A Field Guide to Mechanisms: Part II.Holly Andersen - 2014 - Philosophy Compass 9 (4):284-293.
    In this field guide, I distinguish five separate senses with which the term ‘mechanism’ is used in contemporary philosophy of science. Many of these senses have overlapping areas of application but involve distinct philosophical claims and characterize the target mechanisms in relevantly different ways. This field guide will clarify the key features of each sense and introduce some main debates, distinguishing those that transpire within a given sense from those that are best understood as concerning two distinct senses. The ‘new (...)
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  7. When to Expect Violations of Causal Faithfulness and Why It Matters.Holly Andersen - 2013 - Philosophy of Science (5):672-683.
    I present three reasons why philosophers of science should be more concerned about violations of causal faithfulness (CF). In complex evolved systems, mechanisms for maintaining various equilibrium states are highly likely to violate CF. Even when such systems do not precisely violate CF, they may nevertheless generate precisely the same problems for inferring causal structure from probabilistic relationships in data as do genuine CF-violations. Thus, potential CF-violations are particularly germane to experimental science when we rely on probabilistic information to uncover (...)
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  8. The Representation of Time in Agency.Holly Andersen - 2013 - In Adrian Bardon & Heather Dyke (eds.), Blackwell Companion to Philosophy of Time. Wiley-Blackwell.
    This paper outlines some key issues that arise when agency and temporality are considered jointly, from the perspective of psychology, cognitive neuroscience, phenomenology, and action theory. I address the difference between time simpliciter and time as represented as it figures in phenomena like intentional binding, goal-oriented action plans, emulation systems, and ‘temporal agency’. An examination of Husserl’s account of time consciousness highlights difficulties in generalizing his account to include a substantive notion of agency, a weakness inherited by explanatory projects like (...)
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  9. Reduction in the Biomedical Sciences.Holly Andersen - 2016 - In Miriam Solomon, Jeremy Simon & Harold Kincaid (eds.), Routledge Companion to Philosophy of Medicine. Routledge.
    This chapter discusses several kinds of reduction that are often found in the biomedical sciences, in contrast to reduction in fields such as physics. This includes reduction as a methodological assumption for how to investigate phenomena like complex diseases, and reduction as a conceptual tool for relating distinct models of the same phenomenon. The case of Parkinson’s disease illustrates a wide variety of ways in which reductionism is an important tool in medicine.
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  10. Mechanisms, Laws, and Regularities.Holly Andersen - 2011 - Philosophy of Science 78 (2):325-331.
    Leuridan (2010) argued that mechanisms cannot provide a genuine alternative to laws of nature as a model of explanation in the sciences, and advocates Mitchell’s (1997) pragmatic account of laws. I first demonstrate that Leuridan gets the order of priority wrong between mechanisms, regularity, and laws, and then make some clarifying remarks about how laws and mechanisms relate to regularities. Mechanisms are not an explanatory alternative to regularities; they are an alternative to laws. The existence of stable regularities in nature (...)
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  11. The Development of the ‘Specious Present’ and James’ Views on Temporal Experience.Holly Andersen - 2014 - In Dan Lloyd Valtteri Arstila (ed.), Subjective Time: the philosophy, psychology, and neuroscience of temporality. MIT Press. pp. 25-42.
    This chapter examines the philosophical discussion concerning the relationship between time, memory, attention, and consciousness, from Locke through the Scottish Common Sense tradition, in terms of its influence on James' development of the specious present doctrine. The specious present doctrine is the view that the present moment in experience is non punctate, but instead comprises some nonzero amount of time; it contrasts with the mathematical view of the present, in which the divide between past and future is merely a point (...)
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  12. The Hodgsonian Account of Temporal Experience.Holly Andersen - 2017 - In Ian Phillips (ed.), The Routledge Handbook of Philosophy of Temporal Experience. Routledge.
    This chapter offers a overview of Shadworth Hodgson's account of experience as fundamentally temporal, an account that was deeply influential on thinkers such as William James and which prefigures the phenomenology of Husserl in many ways. I highlight eight key features that are characteristic of Hodgson's account, and how they hang together to provide a coherent overall picture of experience and knowledge. Hodgson's account is then compared to Husserl's, and I argue that Hodgson's account offers a better target for projects (...)
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  13. Mental Causation.Holly Andersen - 2015 - In N. Levy J. Clausen (ed.), Springer Handbook of Neuroethics. Springer.
    The problem of mental causation in contemporary philosophy of mind concerns the possibility of holding two different views that are in apparent tension. The first is physicalism, the view that there is nothing more to the world than the physical. The second is that the mental has genuine causal efficacy in a way that does not reduce to pure physical particle-bumping. This article provides a historical background to this question, with focus on Davidson’s anomalous monism and Kim’s causal exclusion problem. (...)
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  14.  83
    What Would Hume Say? Regularities, Laws, and Mechanisms.Holly Andersen - 2017 - In Phyllis Ilari & Stuart Glennan (eds.), Handbook of Mechanisms and Mechanistic Philosophy. Routledge. pp. 157-168.
    This chapter examines the relationship between laws and mechanisms as approaches to characterising generalizations and explanations in science. I give an overview of recent historical discussions where laws failed to satisfy stringent logical criteria, opening the way for mechanisms to be investigated as a way to explain regularities in nature. This followed by a critical discussion of contemporary debates about the role of laws versus mechanisms in describing versus explaining regularities. I conclude by offering new arguments for two roles for (...)
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