Article ID: CBB001221636

Development and Mechanistic Explanation (2012)


Within modern philosophy of biology the topic of mechanistic explanation has become a central theme for critical discussion. The neo-mechanical philosophers have developed accounts that emphasize intervention and manipulation as the central epistemic tools that allow gaining epistemic access upon the mechanisms and have argued that the processes of inter-field integration across disciplines can be understood through the analysis of mechanisms spanning multiple levels. In this paper I revisit current proposals on mechanistic explanation in order to show some of their limitations when dealing with developmental mechanisms. I basically argue that (i) developmental mechanisms cannot be accommodated within a framework centered upon the mutual manipulation principle, (ii) the distinction between causal relations vs. constitutive relations cannot be easily demarcated within developmental biology and (iii) the notion of part underlying the neo-mechanical accounts on explanation is not suitable for developmental biology.

Citation URI

Similar Citations

Article Valérie Racine; (2016)
The mechanistic-holistic divide revisited: The case of the lac operon (/isis/citation/CBB565749089/)

Article Chadarevian, Soraya de; (2000)
Mapping Development, or How Molecular is Molecular Biology? (/isis/citation/CBB000770053/)

Book Amundson, Ronald; (2005)
The Changing Role of the Embryo in Evolutionary Thought: Roots of Evo-Devo (/isis/citation/CBB000550706/)

Article Davide Vecchi; (2020)
DNA is not an ontologically distinctive developmental cause (/isis/citation/CBB782857037/)

Book Pierre-Alain Braillard; Christophe Malaterre; (2015)
Explanation in Biology: An Enquiry into the Diversity of Explanatory Patterns in the Life Sciences (/isis/citation/CBB328513685/)

Article Monton, Bradley; (2004)
The Problem of Ontology for Spontaneous Collapse Theories (/isis/citation/CBB000471125/)

Article Slowik, Edward; (2013)
Newton's Neo-Platonic Ontology of Space (/isis/citation/CBB001320863/)

Article David Merritt; (2021)
Cosmological Realism (/isis/citation/CBB244895079/)

Article Carl F. Craver; David M. Kaplan; (2020)
Are More Details Better? On the Norms of Completeness for Mechanistic Explanations (/isis/citation/CBB621951199/)

Article Daniel C. Burnston; (2016)
Data graphs and mechanistic explanation (/isis/citation/CBB555220713/)

Article Pyle, Andrew; (2002)
Boyle on Science and the Mechanical Philosophy: A Reply to Chalmers (/isis/citation/CBB000201214/)

Article Harker, David; (2010)
Two Arguments for Scientific Realism Unified (/isis/citation/CBB001021670/)

Book McGuire, J. E.; Tuchanska, Barbara; (2000)
Science Unfettered: A Philosophical Study in Sociohistorical Ontology (/isis/citation/CBB000101833/)

Thesis Landon Marc McBrayer; (2015)
On naturalism (/isis/citation/CBB763636277/)

Authors & Contributors
McGuire, James E.
Tuchanska, Barbara
McGuire, J. E.
Pyle, Andrew
Chalmers, Alan Francis
Monton, Bradley
Studies in History and Philosophy of Science
Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part C: Studies in History and Philosophy of Biological and Biomedical Sciences
History and Philosophy of the Life Sciences
Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part B: Studies in History and Philosophy of Modern Physics
Science in Context
Foundations of Chemistry
Ohio University Press
Cambridge University Press
University of Pittsburgh
University of Utah
Philosophy of science
Explanation; hypotheses; theories
Mechanism; mechanical philosophy
Molecular biology
Developmental biology
Boyle, Robert
Brenner, Sydney
Diderot, Denis
La Mettrie, Julien Offray de
Newton, Isaac
Time Periods
17th century
20th century
20th century, late
19th century
18th century
21st century
Université de Montpellier

Be the first to comment!

{{ comment.created_by.username }} on {{ comment.created_on | date:'medium' }}

Log in or register to comment