Results for 'mechanistic explanation'

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  1. Mechanistic Explanation Without the Ontic Conception.Cory Wright - 2012 - European Journal of Philosophy of Science 2 (3):375-394.
    The ontic conception of scientific explanation has been constructed and motivated on the basis of a putative lexical ambiguity in the term explanation. I raise a puzzle for this ambiguity claim, and then give a deflationary solution under which all ontically-rendered talk of explanation is merely elliptical; what it is elliptical for is a view of scientific explanation that altogether avoids the ontic conception. This result has revisionary consequences for New Mechanists and other philosophers of science, (...)
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  2. New Mechanistic Explanation and the Need for Explanatory Constraints.L. R. Franklin-Hall - 2016 - In Ken Aizawa & Carl Gillett (eds.), Scientific Composition and Metaphysical Ground. Palgrave. pp. 41-74.
    This paper critiques the new mechanistic explanatory program on grounds that, even when applied to the kinds of examples that it was originally designed to treat, it does not distinguish correct explanations from those that blunder. First, I offer a systematization of the explanatory account, one according to which explanations are mechanistic models that satisfy three desiderata: they must 1) represent causal relations, 2) describe the proper parts, and 3) depict the system at the right ‘level.’ Second, I (...)
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  3. Mechanistic Explanation: Asymmetry Lost.Samuel Schindler - 2013 - In Karakostas and Dieks (ed.), “Recent Progress in Philosophy of Science: Perspectives and Foundational Problems”. Springer.
    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 (...)
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  4. Aristotelian Mechanistic Explanation.Monte Johnson - 2017 - In J. Rocca (ed.), Teleology in the Ancient World: philosophical and medical approaches. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. pp. 125-150.
    In some influential histories of ancient philosophy, teleological explanation and mechanistic explanation are assumed to be directly opposed and mutually exclusive alternatives. I contend that this assumption is deeply flawed, and distorts our understanding both of teleological and mechanistic explanation, and of the history of mechanistic philosophy. To prove this point, I shall provide an overview of the first systematic treatise on mechanics, the short and neglected work Mechanical Problems, written either by Aristotle or (...)
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  5. Functional Analyses, Mechanistic Explanations, and Explanatory Tradeoffs.Sergio Daniel Barberis - 2013 - Journal of Cognitive Science 14:229-251.
    Recently, Piccinini and Craver have stated three theses concerning the relations between functional analysis and mechanistic explanation in cognitive sciences: No Distinctness: functional analysis and mechanistic explanation are explanations of the same kind; Integration: functional analysis is a kind of mechanistic explanation; and Subordination: functional analyses are unsatisfactory sketches of mechanisms. In this paper, I argue, first, that functional analysis and mechanistic explanations are sub-kinds of explanation by scientific (idealized) models. From that (...)
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  6. Heuristics, Descriptions, and the Scope of Mechanistic Explanation.Carlos Zednik - 2015 - In P. Braillard & C. Malaterre (eds.), Explanation in Biology. An Enquiry into the Diversity of Explanatory Patterns in the Life Sciences. Dordrecht: Springer. pp. 295-318.
    The philosophical conception of mechanistic explanation is grounded on a limited number of canonical examples. These examples provide an overly narrow view of contemporary scientific practice, because they do not reflect the extent to which the heuristic strategies and descriptive practices that contribute to mechanistic explanation have evolved beyond the well-known methods of decomposition, localization, and pictorial representation. Recent examples from evolutionary robotics and network approaches to biology and neuroscience demonstrate the increasingly important role played by (...)
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  7.  93
    Mechanisms Without Mechanistic Explanation.Naftali Weinberger - 2019 - Synthese 196 (6):2323-2340.
    Some recent accounts of constitutive relevance have identified mechanism components with entities that are causal intermediaries between the input and output of a mechanism. I argue that on such accounts there is no distinctive inter-level form of mechanistic explanation and that this highlights an absence in the literature of a compelling argument that there are such explanations. Nevertheless, the entities that these accounts call ‘components’ do play an explanatory role. Studying causal intermediaries linking variables Xand Y provides knowledge (...)
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  8. Equilibrium Explanation as Structural Non-Mechanistic Explanation: The Case Long-Term Bacterial Persistence in Human Hosts.Javier Suárez & Roger Deulofeu - 2019 - Teorema: International Journal of Philosophy 3 (38):95-120.
    Philippe Huneman has recently questioned the widespread application of mechanistic models of scientific explanation based on the existence of structural explanations, i.e. explanations that account for the phenomenon to be explained in virtue of the mathematical properties of the system where the phenomenon obtains, rather than in terms of the mechanisms that causally produce the phenomenon. Structural explanations are very diverse, including cases like explanations in terms of bowtie structures, in terms of the topological properties of the system, (...)
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  9. Mechanistic Explanation in Psychology.Mark Povich - forthcoming - In Hank Stam & Huib Looren De Jong (eds.), The SAGE Handbook of Theoretical Psychology. (Eds.) Hank Stam and Huib Looren de Jong. Sage.
    Philosophers of psychology debate, among other things, which psychological models, if any, are (or provide) mechanistic explanations. This should seem a little strange given that there is rough consensus on the following two claims: 1) a mechanism is an organized collection of entities and activities that produces, underlies, or maintains a phenomenon, and 2) a mechanistic explanation describes, represents, or provides information about the mechanism producing, underlying, or maintaining the phenomenon to be explained (i.e. the explanandum phenomenon) (...)
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  10.  56
    Principled Mechanistic Explanations in Biology: A Case Study of Alzheimer's Disease.Sepehr Ehsani - manuscript
    Following an analysis of the state of investigations and clinical outcomes in the Alzheimer's research field, I argue that the widely-accepted 'amyloid cascade' mechanistic explanation of Alzheimer's disease appears to be fundamentally incomplete. In this context, I propose that a framework termed 'principled mechanism' (PM) can help with remedying this problem. First, using a series of five 'tests', PM systematically compares different components of a given mechanistic explanation against a paradigmatic set of criteria, and hints at (...)
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  11. A Weakened Mechanism is Still a Mechanism: On the Causal Role of Absences in Mechanistic Explanation.Alexander Mebius - 2013 - Studies in History and Philosophy of Biological and Biomedical Sciences 45 (1):43-48.
    Much contemporary debate on the nature of mechanisms centers on the issue of modulating negative causes. One type of negative causability, which I refer to as “causation by absence,” appears difficult to incorporate into modern accounts of mechanistic explanation. This paper argues that a recent attempt to resolve this problem, proposed by Benjamin Barros, requires improvement as it overlooks the fact that not all absences qualify as sources of mechanism failure. I suggest that there are a number of (...)
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  12.  34
    Causal and Mechanistic Explanations, and a Lesson From Ecology.Viorel Pâslaru - 2015 - In Iulian D. Toader, Gabriel Sandu & Ilie Pȃrvu (eds.), Romanian Studies in Philosophy of Science. Springer Verlag.
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  13.  73
    Biocomplexity: A Pluralist Research Strategy is Necessary for a Mechanistic Explanation of the "Live" State.F. J. Bruggeman, H. V. Westerhoff & F. C. Boogerd - 2002 - Philosophical Psychology 15 (4):411 – 440.
    The biological sciences study (bio)complex living systems. Research directed at the mechanistic explanation of the "live" state truly requires a pluralist research program, i.e. BioComplexity research. The program should apply multiple intra-level and inter-level theories and methodologies. We substantiate this thesis with analysis of BioComplexity: metabolic and modular control analysis of metabolic pathways, emergence of oscillations, and the analysis of the functioning of glycolysis.
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  14. Mechanistic Artefact Explanation.Jeroen de Ridder - 2006 - Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part A 37 (1):81-96.
    One thing about technical artefacts that needs to be explained is how their physical make-up, or structure, enables them to fulfil the behaviour associated with their function, or, more colloquially, how they work. In this paper I develop an account of such explanations based on the familiar notion of mechanistic explanation. To accomplish this, I outline two explanatory strategies that provide two different types of insight into an artefact’s functioning, and show how human action inevitably plays a role (...)
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  15. A Regularist Approach to Mechanistic Type-Level Explanation.Beate Krickel - 2017 - British Journal for the Philosophy of Science (4):00-00.
    Most defenders of the new mechanistic approach accept ontic constraints for successful scientific explanation (Illari 2013; Craver 2014). The minimal claim is that scientific explanations have objective truthmakers, namely mechanisms that exist in the physical world independently of any observer and that cause or constitute the phenomena-to- be-explained. How can this idea be applied to type-level explanations? Many authors at least implicitly assume that in order for mechanisms to be the truthmakers of type-level explanation they need to (...)
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  16.  35
    Reductionist and Anti-Reductionist Accounts of Mechanistic Explanation.Alex Middleton - manuscript
    The following paper pertains to the area of philosophy of mind. Specifically, this paper examines the debate between the reductionist and the anti reductionist about mechanisms. This topic is elucidated and discussed in the literature of several outstanding philosophers in the field, namely: Bechtel, Couch, Craver and Lipton. It is important to note that this paper takes aim at entity reduction rather than theory reduction and examines two distinct views of levels of entities. This paper will go beyond examining the (...)
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  17. 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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  18. The Metaphysics of Constitutive Mechanistic Phenomena.Marie I. Kaiser & Beate Krickel - 2017 - British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 68 (3).
    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 (...)
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  19. The Concept of Mechanism in Biology.Daniel J. Nicholson - 2012 - Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part C: Studies in History and Philosophy of Biological and Biomedical Sciences 43 (1):152-163.
    The concept of mechanism in biology has three distinct meanings. It may refer to a philosophical thesis about the nature of life and biology (‘mechanicism’), to the internal workings of a machine-like structure (‘machine mechanism’), or to the causal explanation of a particular phenomenon (‘causal mechanism’). In this paper I trace the conceptual evolution of ‘mechanism’ in the history of biology, and I examine how the three meanings of this term have come to be featured in the philosophy of (...)
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  20. Physical Computation: A Mechanistic Account. [REVIEW]Joe Dewhurst - 2016 - Philosophical Psychology 29 (5):795-797.
    Physical Computation is the summation of Piccinini’s work on computation and mechanistic explanation over the past decade. It draws together material from papers published during that time, but also provides additional clarifications and restructuring that make this the definitive presentation of his mechanistic account of physical computation. This review will first give a brief summary of the account that Piccinini defends, followed by a chapter-by-chapter overview of the book, before finally discussing one aspect of the account in (...)
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  21. 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 (...)
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  22. Mechanistic Levels, Reduction, and Emergence.Mark Povich & Carl F. Craver - 2017 - In Stuart Glennan & Phyllis McKay Illari (eds.), The Routledge Handbook of Mechanisms and Mechanical Philosophy. Routledge. pp. 185-97.
    We sketch the mechanistic approach to levels, contrast it with other senses of “level,” and explore some of its metaphysical implications. This perspective allows us to articulate what it means for things to be at different levels, to distinguish mechanistic levels from realization relations, and to describe the structure of multilevel explanations, the evidence by which they are evaluated, and the scientific unity that results from them. This approach is not intended to solve all metaphysical problems surrounding physicalism. (...)
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  23. On Nature and Normativity: Normativity, Teleology, and Mechanism in Biological Explanation.Lenny Moss & Daniel J. Nicholson - 2012 - Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part C: Studies in History and Philosophy of Biological and Biomedical Sciences 43 (1):88-91.
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  24. Judging Mechanistic Neuroscience: A Preliminary Conceptual-Analytic Framework for Evaluating Scientific Evidence in the Courtroom.Jacqueline Anne Sullivan & Emily Baron - 2018 - Psychology, Crime and Law (00):00-00.
    The use of neuroscientific evidence in criminal trials has been steadily increasing. Despite progress made in recent decades in understanding the mechanisms of psychological and behavioral functioning, neuroscience is still in an early stage of development and its potential for influencing legal decision-making is highly contentious. Scholars disagree about whether or how neuroscientific evidence might impact prescriptions of criminal culpability, particularly in instances in which evidence of an accused’s history of mental illness or brain abnormality is offered to support a (...)
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  25. Grounding-Mechanical Explanation.Kelly Trogdon - 2018 - Philosophical Studies 175 (6):1289-1309.
    Characterization of a form of explanation involving grounding on the model of mechanistic causal explanation.
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  26. Horizontal Surgicality and Mechanistic Constitution.Michael Baumgartner, Lorenzo Casini & Beate Krickel - 2018 - Erkenntnis:1-14.
    While ideal interventions are acknowledged by many as valuable tools for the analysis of causation, recent discussions have shown that, since there are no ideal interventions on upper-level phenomena that non-reductively supervene on their underlying mechanisms, interventions cannot—contrary to a popular opinion—ground an informative analysis of constitution. This has led some to abandon the project of analyzing constitution in interventionist terms. By contrast, this paper defines the notion of a horizontally surgical intervention, and argues that, when combined with some innocuous (...)
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  27.  72
    Discovering Patterns: On the Norms of Mechanistic Inquiry.Lena Kästner & Philipp Haueis - forthcoming - Erkenntnis 3:1-26.
    What kinds of norms constrain mechanistic discovery and explanation? In the mechanistic literature, the norms for good explanations are directly derived from answers to the metaphysical question of what explanations are. Prominent mechanistic accounts thus emphasize either ontic or epistemic norms. Still, mechanistic philosophers on both sides agree that there is no sharp distinction between the processes of discovery and explanation. Thus, it seems reasonable to expect that ontic and epistemic accounts of explanation (...)
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  28. Explanatory Completeness and Idealization in Large Brain Simulations: A Mechanistic Perspective.Marcin Miłkowski - 2016 - Synthese 193 (5):1457-1478.
    The claim defended in the paper is that the mechanistic account of explanation can easily embrace idealization in big-scale brain simulations, and that only causally relevant detail should be present in explanatory models. The claim is illustrated with two methodologically different models: Blue Brain, used for particular simulations of the cortical column in hybrid models, and Eliasmith’s SPAUN model that is both biologically realistic and able to explain eight different tasks. By drawing on the mechanistic theory of (...)
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  29. When Mechanisms Are Not Enough: The Origin of Eukaryotes and Scientific Explanation.Roger Deulofeu & Javier Suárez - 2018 - In Alexander Christian, David Hommen, Gerhard Schurz & N. Retzlaff (eds.), Philosophy of Science. European Studies in Philosophy of Science, vol 9. Dordrecht, Netherlands: pp. 95-115.
    The appeal to mechanisms in scientific explanation is commonplace in contemporary philosophy of science. In short, mechanists argue that an explanation of a phenomenon consists of citing the mechanism that brings the phenomenon about. In this paper, we present an argument that challenges the universality of mechanistic explanation: in explanations of the contemporary features of the eukaryotic cell, biologists appeal to its symbiogenetic origin and therefore the notion of symbiogenesis plays the main explanatory role. We defend (...)
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  30. Three Kinds of New Mechanism.Arnon Levy - 2013 - Biology and Philosophy 28 (1):99-114.
    I distinguish three theses associated with the new mechanistic philosophy – concerning causation, explanation and scientific methodology. Advocates of each thesis are identified and relationships among them are outlined. I then look at some recent work on natural selection and mechanisms. There, attention to different kinds of New Mechanism significantly affects of what is at stake.
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  31. The Mechanistic Approach of The Theory of Island Biogeography and its Current Relevance.Viorel Pâslaru - 2014 - Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part C: Studies in History and Philosophy of Biological and Biomedical Sciences 45 (1):22-33.
    Philosophers of science have examined The Theory of Island Biogeography by Robert MacArthur and E. O. Wilson (1967) mainly due to its important contribution to modeling in ecology, but they have not examined it as a representative case of ecological explanation. In this paper, I scrutinize the type of explanation used in this paradigmatic work of ecology. I describe the philosophy of science of MacArthur and Wilson and show that it is mechanistic. Based on this account and (...)
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  32.  66
    Mechanistic Idealization in Systems Biology.Dingmar van Eck & Cory Wright - forthcoming - Synthese.
    This paper adds to the philosophical literature on mechanistic explanation by elaborating two related explanatory functions of idealisation in mechanistic models. The first function involves explaining the presence of structural/organizational features of mechanisms by reference to their role as difference-makers for performance requirements. The second involves tracking counterfactual dependency relations between features of mechanisms and features of mechanistic explanandum phenomena. To make these functions salient, we relate our discussion to an exemplar from systems biological research on (...)
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  33.  44
    Why a Right to Explanation of Automated Decision-Making Does Not Exist in the General Data Protection Regulation.Sandra Wachter, Brent Mittelstadt & Luciano Floridi - 2017 - International Data Privacy Law 1 (2):76-99.
    Since approval of the EU General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) in 2016, it has been widely and repeatedly claimed that the GDPR will legally mandate a ‘right to explanation’ of all decisions made by automated or artificially intelligent algorithmic systems. This right to explanation is viewed as an ideal mechanism to enhance the accountability and transparency of automated decision-making. However, there are several reasons to doubt both the legal existence and the feasibility of such a right. In contrast (...)
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  34. 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 (...)
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  35. Bowtie Structures, Pathway Diagrams, and Topological Explanation.Nicholaos Jones - 2014 - Erkenntnis 79 (5):1135-1155.
    While mechanistic explanation and, to a lesser extent, nomological explanation are well-explored topics in the philosophy of biology, topological explanation is not. Nor is the role of diagrams in topological explanations. These explanations do not appeal to the operation of mechanisms or laws, and extant accounts of the role of diagrams in biological science explain neither why scientists might prefer diagrammatic representations of topological information to sentential equivalents nor how such representations might facilitate important processes of (...)
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  36. The Ontic Account of Scientific Explanation.Carl F. Craver - 2014 - In Marie I. Kaiser, Oliver R. Scholz, Daniel Plenge & Andreas Hüttemann (eds.), Explanation in the Special Sciences: The Case of Biology and History. Springer Verlag. pp. 27-52.
    According to one large family of views, scientific explanations explain a phenomenon (such as an event or a regularity) by subsuming it under a general representation, model, prototype, or schema (see Bechtel, W., & Abrahamsen, A. (2005). Explanation: A mechanist alternative. Studies in History and Philosophy of Biological and Biomedical Sciences, 36(2), 421–441; Churchland, P. M. (1989). A neurocomputational perspective: The nature of mind and the structure of science. Cambridge: MIT Press; Darden (2006); Hempel, C. G. (1965). Aspects of (...)
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  37. Introduction: Scientific Explanation Beyond Causation.Alexander Reutlinger & Juha Saatsi - 2017 - In Alexander Reutlinger & Juha Saatsi (eds.), Explanation Beyond Causation: Philosophical Perspectives on Non-Causal Explanations. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
    This is an introduction to the volume "Explanation Beyond Causation: Philosophical Perspectives on Non-Causal Explanations", edited by A. Reutlinger and J. Saatsi (OUP, forthcoming in 2017). -/- Explanations are very important to us in many contexts: in science, mathematics, philosophy, and also in everyday and juridical contexts. But what is an explanation? In the philosophical study of explanation, there is long-standing, influential tradition that links explanation intimately to causation: we often explain by providing accurate information about (...)
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  38.  52
    A Structural Explanation of Injustice in Conversations: It's About Norms.Saray Ayala-López - 2018 - Pacific Philosophical Quarterly 99 (4):726-748.
    In contrast to individualistic explanations of social injustice that appeal to implicit attitudes, structural explanations are unintuitive: they appeal to entities that lack clear ontological status, and the explanatory mechanism is similarly unclear. This makes structural explanations unappealing. The present work proposes a structural explanation of one type of injustice that happens in conversations, discursive injustice. This proposal meets two goals. First, it satisfactorily accounts for the specific features of this particular kind of injustice; and second, it articulates a (...)
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  39. Beyond Formal Structure: A Mechanistic Perspective on Computation and Implementation.Marcin Miłkowski - 2011 - Journal of Cognitive Science 12 (4):359-379.
    In this article, after presenting the basic idea of causal accounts of implementation and the problems they are supposed to solve, I sketch the model of computation preferred by Chalmers and argue that it is too limited to do full justice to computational theories in cognitive science. I also argue that it does not suffice to replace Chalmers’ favorite model with a better abstract model of computation; it is necessary to acknowledge the causal structure of physical computers that is not (...)
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  40. The Mechanistic Approach to Psychiatric Classification.Elisabetta Sirgiovanni - 2009 - Dialogues in Philosophy, Mental and Neuro Sciences 2 (2):45-49.
    A Kuhnian reformulation of the recent debate in psychiatric nosography suggested that the current psychiatric classification system (the DSM) is in crisis and that a sort of paradigm shift is awaited (Aragona, 2009). Among possible revolutionary alternatives, the proposed fi ve-axes etiopathogenetic taxonomy (Charney et al., 2002) emphasizes the primacy of the genotype over the phenomenological level as the relevant basis for psychiatric nosography. Such a position is along the lines of the micro-reductionist perspective of E. Kandel (1998, 1999), which (...)
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  41. Model-Based Cognitive Neuroscience: Multifield Mechanistic Integration in Practice.Mark Povich - 2019 - Theory & Psychology 5 (29):640–656.
    Autonomist accounts of cognitive science suggest that cognitive model building and theory construction (can or should) proceed independently of findings in neuroscience. Common functionalist justifications of autonomy rely on there being relatively few constraints between neural structure and cognitive function (e.g., Weiskopf, 2011). In contrast, an integrative mechanistic perspective stresses the mutual constraining of structure and function (e.g., Piccinini & Craver, 2011; Povich, 2015). In this paper, I show how model-based cognitive neuroscience (MBCN) epitomizes the integrative mechanistic perspective (...)
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  42. Bayesian Cognitive Science, Unification, and Explanation.Stephan Hartmann & Matteo Colombo - 2017 - British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 68 (2).
    It is often claimed that the greatest value of the Bayesian framework in cognitive science consists in its unifying power. Several Bayesian cognitive scientists assume that unification is obviously linked to explanatory power. But this link is not obvious, as unification in science is a heterogeneous notion, which may have little to do with explanation. While a crucial feature of most adequate explanations in cognitive science is that they reveal aspects of the causal mechanism that produces the phenomenon to (...)
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  43. Function-Theoretic Explanation and the Search for Neural Mechanisms.Frances Egan - 2017 - In Explanation and Integration in Mind and Brain Science 145-163. Oxford, UK: pp. 145-163.
    A common kind of explanation in cognitive neuroscience might be called functiontheoretic: with some target cognitive capacity in view, the theorist hypothesizes that the system computes a well-defined function (in the mathematical sense) and explains how computing this function constitutes (in the system’s normal environment) the exercise of the cognitive capacity. Recently, proponents of the so-called ‘new mechanist’ approach in philosophy of science have argued that a model of a cognitive capacity is explanatory only to the extent that it (...)
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  44. Is Psychological Explanation Going Extinct?Cory Wright - 2007 - In Huib Looren de Jong & Maurice Schouten (eds.), The Matter of the Mind: Philosophical Essays on Psychology, Neuroscience and Reduction. Oxford: Blackwell.
    Psychoneural reductionists sometimes claim that sufficient amounts of lower-level explanatory achievement preclude further contributions from higher-level psychological research. Ostensibly, with nothing left to do, the effect of such preclusion on psychological explanation is extinction. Reductionist arguments for preclusion have recently involved a reorientation within the philosophical foundations of neuroscience---namely, away from the philosophical foundations and toward the neuroscience. In this chapter, I review a successful reductive explanation of an aspect of reward function in terms of dopaminergic operations of (...)
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  45. The Search of “Canonical” Explanations for the Cerebral Cortex.Alessio Plebe - 2018 - History and Philosophy of the Life Sciences 40 (3):40.
    This paper addresses a fundamental line of research in neuroscience: the identification of a putative neural processing core of the cerebral cortex, often claimed to be “canonical”. This “canonical” core would be shared by the entire cortex, and would explain why it is so powerful and diversified in tasks and functions, yet so uniform in architecture. The purpose of this paper is to analyze the search for canonical explanations over the past 40 years, discussing the theoretical frameworks informing this research. (...)
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  46.  73
    Towards Mechanism 2.1: A Dynamic Causal Approach.W. Fang - forthcoming - Philosophy of Science.
    I propose a dynamic causal approach to characterizing the notion of a mechanism. Levy and Bechtel, among others, have pointed out several critical limitations of the new mechanical philosophy, and pointed in a new direction to extend this philosophy. Nevertheless, they have not fully fleshed out what that extended philosophy would look like. Based on a closer look at neuroscientific practice, I propose that a mechanism is a dynamic causal system that involves various components interacting, typically nonlinearly, with one another (...)
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  47. Saving the Mutual Manipulability Account of Constitutive Relevance.Beate Krickel - 2018 - Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part A 68:58-67.
    Constitutive mechanistic explanations are said to refer to mechanisms that constitute the phenomenon-to-be-explained. The most prominent approach of how to understand this constitution relation is Carl Craver’s mutual manipulability approach to constitutive relevance. Recently, the mutual manipulability approach has come under attack (Leuridan 2012; Baumgartner and Gebharter 2015; Romero 2015; Harinen 2014; Casini and Baumgartner 2016). Roughly, it is argued that this approach is inconsistent because it is spelled out in terms of interventionism (which is an approach to causation), (...)
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  48. Color in a Material World: Margaret Cavendish Against the Early Modern Mechanists.Colin Chamberlain - 2019 - Philosophical Review 128 (3):293-336.
    Consider the distinctive qualitative property grass visually appears to have when it visually appears to be green. This property is an example of what I call sensuous color. Whereas early modern mechanists typically argue that bodies are not sensuously colored, Margaret Cavendish disagrees. In cases of veridical perception, she holds that grass is green in precisely the way it visually appears to be. In defense of her realist approach to sensuous colors, Cavendish argues that it is impossible to conceive of (...)
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    The Challenges of Purely Mechanistic Models in Biology and the Minimum Need for a 'Mechanism-Plus-X' Framework.Sepehr Ehsani - 2018 - Dissertation, University College London
    Ever since the advent of molecular biology in the 1970s, mechanical models have become the dogma in the field, where a "true" understanding of any subject is equated to a mechanistic description. This has been to the detriment of the biomedical sciences, where, barring some exceptions, notable new feats of understanding have arguably not been achieved in normal and disease biology, including neurodegenerative disease and cancer pathobiology. I argue for a "mechanism-plus-X" paradigm, where mainstay elements of mechanistic models (...)
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  50. Biological Explanation.Angela Potochnik - 2013 - In Kostas Kampourakis (ed.), The Philosophy of Biology: A Companion for Educators. Springer. pp. 49-65.
    One of the central aims of science is explanation: scientists seek to uncover why things happen the way they do. This chapter addresses what kinds of explanations are formulated in biology, how explanatory aims influence other features of the field of biology, and the implications of all of this for biology education. Philosophical treatments of scientific explanation have been both complicated and enriched by attention to explanatory strategies in biology. Most basically, whereas traditional philosophy of science based (...) on derivation from scientific laws, there are many biological explanations in which laws play little or no role. Instead, the field of biology is a natural place to turn for support for the idea that causal information is explanatory. Biology has also been used to motivate mechanistic accounts of explanation, as well as criticisms of that approach. Ultimately, the most pressing issue about explanation in biology may be how to account for the wide range of explanatory styles encountered in the field. This issue is crucial, for the aims of biological explanation influence a variety of other features of the field of biology. Explanatory aims account for the continued neglect of some central causal factors, a neglect that would otherwise be mysterious. This is linked to the persistent use of models like evolutionary game theory and population genetic models, models that are simplified to the point of unreality. These explanatory aims also offer a way to interpret many biologists’ total commitment to one or another methodological approach, and the intense disagreements that result. In my view, such debates are better understood as arising not from different theoretical commitments, but commitments to different explanatory projects. Biology education would thus be enriched by attending to approaches to biological explanation, as well as the unexpected ways that these explanatory aims influence other features of biology. I suggest five lessons for teaching about explanation in biology that follow from the considerations of this chapter. (shrink)
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