Mechanistic explanation and its limits

Authored by: Marta Halina

The Routledge Handbook of Mechanisms and Mechanical Philosophy

Print publication date:  July  2017
Online publication date:  July  2017

Print ISBN: 9781138841697
eBook ISBN: 9781315731544
Adobe ISBN:

10.4324/9781315731544.ch16

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Abstract

Many attempts have been made by philosophers to provide a satisfying account of what constitutes an explanation in the sciences. Over the last few decades, particular attention has been given to the role of mechanisms in providing such an account in the life sciences. Mechanistic explanations have proved to provide a powerful account of both the practices of biologists and the normative constraints on explanation. Even so, many philosophers are wary of explanatory hegemony, holding instead that a plurality of accounts of explanation will be needed to capture the diversity of scientific practice (Godfrey-Smith 2003).

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