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Mechanisms in Science
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Book description

In recent years what has come to be called the 'New Mechanism' has emerged as a framework for thinking about the philosophical assumptions underlying many areas of science, especially in sciences such as biology, neuroscience, and psychology. This book offers a fresh look at the role of mechanisms, by situating novel analyses of central philosophical issues related to mechanisms within a rich historical perspective of the concept of mechanism as well as detailed case studies of biological mechanisms (such as apoptosis). It develops a new position, Methodological Mechanism, according to which mechanisms are to be viewed as causal pathways that are theoretically described and are underpinned by networks of difference-making relations. In contrast to metaphysically inflated accounts, this study characterises mechanism as a concept-in-use in science that is deflationary and metaphysically neutral, but still methodologically useful and central to scientific practice.

Reviews

‘As the 'New mechanical philosophy' grows bigger by the day, it is very difficult to make a significant contribution to the field. But this book is an extremely well researched, timely, and interesting piece of work. It offers compelling (philosophical and historical) arguments for the idea that mechanisms in science are to be understood as a methodological stance, which no doubt will spark debate in philosophy of science.'

Federica Russo - University of Amsterdam

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Contents

  • Chapter 1 - Mechanisms, Then and Now
    pp 15-39

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