PSA2016: The 25th Biennial Meeting of the Philosophy of Science Association

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The Identification-Problem of Mechanisms and Weak Mechanistic Realism

A criticism of an ontic understanding of mechanistic explanation consists in arguing that mechanisms cannot be metaphysically real since human epistemic interests are necessarily involved in identifying putative components as relevant to a mechanism. I argue for distinguishing a weak and strong sense of realism about mechanisms and show by using and slightly modifying the constitutive-relevance-account of mechanisms developed in (Craver 2007) that this identification-problem only applies to strong mechanistic realism. Accepting the involvement of epistemic human interests does therefore neither preclude a realist stance with regard to mechanisms nor an ontic account of mechanistic explanation.

Author Information:

Tobias Schönwitz    


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