Mechanisms are real and local

Williamson, Jon (2011) Mechanisms are real and local. In: Illari, Phyllis and Russo, Frederica and Williamson, Jon, eds. Causality in the Sciences. Oxford University Press, Oxford, pp. 818-844. ISBN 9780199574131. (The full text of this publication is not available from this repository)

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Abstract

Mechanisms have become much-discussed, yet there is still no consensus on how to characterise them. In this paper, we start with something everyone is agreed on – that mechanisms explain – and investigate what constraints this imposes on our metaphysics of mechanisms. We examine two widely shared premises about how to understand mechanistic explanation: (1) that mechanistic explanation offers a welcome alternative to traditional laws-based explanation and (2) that there are two senses of mechanistic explanation that we call ‘epistemic explanation’ and ‘physical explanation’. We argue that mechanistic explanation requires that mechanisms are both real and local. We then go on to argue that real, local mechanisms require a broadly active metaphysics for mechanisms, such as a capacities metaphysics.

Item Type: Book section
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > B Philosophy (General)
Q Science > Q Science (General)
Divisions: Faculties > Humanities > School of European Culture and Languages
Depositing User: Jon Williamson
Date Deposited: 20 Jan 2012 11:41
Last Modified: 09 Apr 2014 15:45
Resource URI: http://kar.kent.ac.uk/id/eprint/28619 (The current URI for this page, for reference purposes)
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