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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