Published online by Cambridge University Press: 09 June 2022
In the Finale we examine to what extent Causal Mechanism can be seen as a descendant of the original notion of mechanism developed in seventeenth century, by examining possible extensions of the seventeenth-century notion of mechanism and discussing whether they can be used to characterise mechanism as a concept-in-use. We identify two conditions that a biological explanation has to satisfy in order to count as mechanistic, both of which were central in Old Mechanism: the condition of intelligibility and the condition of the priority of the parts over the whole. We use these two conditions to distinguish between two notions of mechanism: a more narrow one that incorporates both the intelligibility condition and the condition of the priority of the parts and a broader one that incorporates only the intelligibility condition and is thus a weakened form of mechanism. We claim that an account of mechanism as a concept-in-use requires the weakened notion, which when viewed in terms of Causal Mechanism has nevertheless enough content so that it can be seen as a descendant of the original concept.