Mechanisms in Science: Method or Metaphysics?

English | 2022 | ISBN: 1316519902 | 291 Pages | PDF | 2 MB

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.
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