12 found
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  1. Mechanism, Autonomy and Biological Explanation.Leonardo Bich & William Bechtel - 2021 - Biology and Philosophy 36 (6):1-27.
    The new mechanists and the autonomy approach both aim to account for how biological phenomena are explained. One identifies appeals to how components of a mechanism are organized so that their activities produce a phenomenon. The other directs attention towards the whole organism and focuses on how it achieves self-maintenance. This paper discusses challenges each confronts and how each could benefit from collaboration with the other: the new mechanistic framework can gain by taking into account what happens outside individual mechanisms, (...)
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  2. Control Mechanisms: Explaining the Integration and Versatility of Biological Organisms.Leonardo Bich & William Bechtel - 2022 - Adaptive Behavior.
    Living organisms act as integrated wholes to maintain themselves. Individual actions can each be explained by characterizing the mechanisms that perform the activity. But these alone do not explain how various activities are coordinated and performed versatilely. We argue that this depends on a specific type of mechanism, a control mechanism. We develop an account of control by examining several extensively studied control mechanisms operative in the bacterium E. coli. On our analysis, what distinguishes a control mechanism from other mechanisms (...)
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  3. Grounding Cognition: Heterarchical Control Mechanisms in Biology.William Bechtel & Leonardo Bich - 2021 - Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences 376 (1820).
    We advance an account that grounds cognition, specifically decision-making, in an activity all organisms as autonomous systems must perform to keep themselves viable—controlling their production mechanisms. Production mechanisms, as we characterize them, perform activities such as procuring resources from their environment, putting these resources to use to construct and repair the organism's body and moving through the environment. Given the variable nature of the environment and the continual degradation of the organism, these production mechanisms must be regulated by control mechanisms (...)
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  4. Mechanisms and Psychological Explanation.Cory Wright & William Bechtel - 2007 - In Paul Thagard (ed.), Handbook of the Philosophy of Psychology and Cognitive Science. Elsevier.
    As much as assumptions about mechanisms and mechanistic explanation have deeply affected psychology, they have received disproportionately little analysis in philosophy. After a historical survey of the influences of mechanistic approaches to explanation of psychological phenomena, we specify the nature of mechanisms and mechanistic explanation. Contrary to some treatments of mechanistic explanation, we maintain that explanation is an epistemic activity that involves representing and reasoning about mechanisms. We discuss the manner in which mechanistic approaches serve to bridge levels rather than (...)
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  5. Being Emergence Vs. Pattern Emergence: Complexity, Control, and Goal-Directedness in Biological Systems.Jason Winning & William Bechtel - 2019 - In Sophie Gibb, Robin Hendry & Tom Lancaster (eds.), The Routledge Handbook of Philosophy of Emergence. London: pp. 134-144.
    Emergence is much discussed by both philosophers and scientists. But, as noted by Mitchell (2012), there is a significant gulf; philosophers and scientists talk past each other. We contend that this is because philosophers and scientists typically mean different things by emergence, leading us to distinguish being emergence and pattern emergence. While related to distinctions offered by others between, for example, strong/weak emergence or epistemic/ontological emergence (Clayton, 2004, pp. 9–11), we argue that the being vs. pattern distinction better captures what (...)
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  6. Active Biological Mechanisms: Transforming Energy Into Motion in Molecular Motors.William Bechtel & Andrew Bollhagen - 2021 - Synthese 199 (5-6):12705-12729.
    Unless one embraces activities as foundational, understanding activities in mechanisms requires an account of the means by which entities in biological mechanisms engage in their activities—an account that does not merely explain activities in terms of more basic entities and activities. Recent biological research on molecular motors exemplifies such an account, one that explains activities in terms of free energy and constraints. After describing the characteristic “stepping” activities of these molecules and mapping the stages of those steps onto the stages (...)
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  7. What is Psychological Explanation?William Bechtel & Cory Wright - 2009 - In P. Calvo & J. Symons (eds.), The Routledge Companion to Philosophy of Psychology. Routledge. pp. 113--130.
    Due to the wide array of phenomena that are of interest to them, psychologists offer highly diverse and heterogeneous types of explanations. Initially, this suggests that the question "What is psychological explanation?" has no single answer. To provide appreciation of this diversity, we begin by noting some of the more common types of explanations that psychologists provide, with particular focus on classical examples of explanations advanced in three different areas of psychology: psychophysics, physiological psychology, and information-processing psychology. To analyze what (...)
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  8.  78
    Organization Needs Organization: Understanding Integrated Control in Living Organisms.Leonardo Bich & William Bechtel - 2022 - Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part A 93:96-106.
    Organization figures centrally in the understanding of biological systems advanced by both new mechanists and proponents of the autonomy framework. The new mechanists focus on how components of mechanisms are organized to produce a phenomenon and emphasize productive continuity between these components. The autonomy framework focuses on how the components of a biological system are organized in such a way that they contribute to the maintenance of the organisms that produce them. In this paper we analyze and compare these two (...)
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  9. Mental Mechanisms and Psychological Construction.Mitchell Herschbach & William Bechtel - 2014 - In Lisa Feldman Barrett & James Russell (eds.), The Psychological Construction of Emotion. Guilford Press. pp. 21-44.
    Psychological construction represents an important new approach to psychological phenomena, one that has the promise to help us reconceptualize the mind both as a behavioral and as a biological system. It has so far been developed in the greatest detail for emotion, but it has important implications for how researchers approach other mental phenomena such as reasoning, memory, and language use. Its key contention is that phenomena that are characterized in (folk) psychological vocabulary are not themselves basic features of the (...)
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  10. Model Organisms for Studying Decision-Making: A Phylogenetically Expanded Perspective.Linus Ta-Lun Huang, Leonardo Bich & William Bechtel - 2021 - Philosophy of Science 88 (5):1055-1066.
    This article explores the use of model organisms in studying the cognitive phenomenon of decision-making. Drawing on the framework of biological control to develop a skeletal conception of decision-making, we show that two core features of decision-making mechanisms can be identified by studying model organisms, such as E. coli, jellyfish, C. elegans, lamprey, and so on. First, decision mechanisms are distributed and heterarchically structured. Second, they depend heavily on chemical information processing, such as that involving neuromodulators. We end by discussing (...)
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  11. Review of Biological Autonomy by Alvaro Moreno and Matteo Mossio. [REVIEW]Jason Winning & William Bechtel - 2016 - Philosophy of Science 83 (3):446-452.
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  12. Information-Theoretic Philosophy of Mind.Jason Winning & William Bechtel - 2016 - In Luciano Floridi (ed.), The Routledge Handbook of Philosophy of Information. London and New York: Routledge. pp. 347-360.
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