Title
Can mechanisms really replace laws of nature?
Author
Faculty/Department
Faculty of Arts. Philosophy
Publication type
article
Publication
East Lansing, Mich. ,
Subject
Philosophy
History
Source (journal)
Philosophy of science : journal of the Philosophy of Science Association. - East Lansing, Mich., 1934, currens
Volume/pages
77(2010) :3 , p. 317-340
ISSN
0031-8248
1539-767X
ISI
000278592100001
Carrier
E
Target language
English (eng)
Full text (Publishers DOI)
Abstract
Today, mechanisms and mechanistic explanation are very popular in philosophy of science and are deemed a welcome alternative to laws of nature and deductive-nomological explanation. Starting from Mitchell's pragmatic notion of laws, I cast doubt on their status as a genuine alternative. I argue that (1) all complex-systems mechanisms onto-logically must rely on stable regularities, while (2) the reverse need not hold. Analogously, (3) models of mechanisms must incorporate pragmatic laws, while (4) such laws themselves need not always refer to underlying mechanisms. Finally, I show that Mitchell's account is more encompassing than the mechanistic account
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