Mechanisms Without Mechanistic Explanation

Naftali Weinberger

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

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Abstract

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 interlevel 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 X and Y provides knowledge of the counterfactual conditions under which X will continue to bring about Y. This explanatory role does not depend on whether intermediate variables count as components. The question of whether there are distinctively mechanistic
explanations remains open.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2323-2340
JournalSynthese
Volume196
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2017

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