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Chapter 10 - Methodological Mechanism

from Part III - Beyond New Mechanism

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  09 June 2022

Stavros Ioannidis
Affiliation:
University of Athens, Greece
Stathis Psillos
Affiliation:
University of Athens, Greece
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Summary

Chapter 10 picks up the various threads and defends the main thesis of the book (Methodological Mechanism), namely, the claim that to be committed to mechanism is to adopt a certain methodological postulate, that is, to look for causal pathways for the phenomena of interest. We compare our view of Methodological Mechanism with an important discussion by Joseph Henry Woodger concerning the meaning of mechanism, which has been ignored in current discussions, as well as with the views of Robert Brandon. We then formulate a dilemma that new mechanists face, which arises from the unstable combination of two main tenets of New Mechanism, an ontological and a methodological, both of which depend on the general characterisation of mechanism but that pull in opposite directions. We argue that Causal Mechanism is able to resolve the dilemma, by providing the best defence of the methodological tenet of New Mechanism, while at the same time preventing the adoption of a robust version of the ontological tenet.

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Mechanisms in Science
Method or Metaphysics?
, pp. 225 - 246
Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Print publication year: 2022

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