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Mechanisms are real and local

Illari, PK; Williamson, J; (2011) Mechanisms are real and local. In: Illari, PM and Russo, F and Williamson, J, (eds.) Causality in the sciences. (818 - 844). Oxford University Press: Oxford. Green open access

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Abstract

Mechanisms have become much‐discussed, yet there is still no consensus on how to characterize them. This chapter starts with something everyone is agreed on–that mechanisms explain–and investigate what constraints this imposes on our metaphysics of mechanisms. The chapter examines 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 the chapter calls ‘epistemic explanation’ and ‘physical explanation’. The chapter argues that mechanistic explanation requires that mechanisms are both real and local. The chapter then goes on to argue that real, local mechanisms require a broadly active metaphysics for mechanisms, such as a capacities metaphysics.

Type: Book chapter
Title: Mechanisms are real and local
ISBN-13: 9780199574131
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199574131.003.0038
Publisher version: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199574131...
Language: English
Additional information: pp. 818-844, Mechanisms are real and local by Phyllis McKay Illari & Jon Williamson, in Causality in the Sciences edited by Phyllis McKay Illari, Federica Russo, and Jon Williamson, 2011, reproduced by permission of Oxford University Press: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199574131.003.0038.
Keywords: Mechanisms, metaphysics of mechanisms, explanation, mechanistic explanation, causal explanation, locality, capacities
UCL classification: UCL
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL BEAMS
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL BEAMS > Faculty of Maths and Physical Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL BEAMS > Faculty of Maths and Physical Sciences > Dept of Science and Technology Studies
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/1397587
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