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Mechanism Hierarchy Realism and Function Perspectivalism

Dewhurst, Joe and Isaac, Alistair M. C. (2020) Mechanism Hierarchy Realism and Function Perspectivalism. [Preprint]

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Abstract

Mechanistic explanation involves the attribution of functions to both mechanisms and their component parts, and function attribution plays a central role in the individuation of mechanisms. Our aim in this paper is to investigate the impact of a perspectival view of function attribution for the broader mechanist project, and specifically for realism about mechanistic hierarchies. We argue that, contrary to the claims of function perspectivalists such as Craver, one cannot endorse both function perspectivalism and mechanistic hierarchy realism: if functions are perspectival, then so are the levels of a mechanistic hierarchy. We illustrate this argument with an example from recent neuroscience, where the mechanism responsible for the phenomenon of ephaptic coupling cross-cuts (in a hierarchical sense) the more familiar mechanism for synaptic firing. Finally, we consider what kind of structure there is left to be realist about for the function perspectivalist.


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Item Type: Preprint
Creators:
CreatorsEmailORCID
Dewhurst, Joejoseph.e.dewhurst@gmail.com
Isaac, Alistair M. C.a.m.c.isaac@ed.ac.uk
Keywords: mechanistic explanation, perspectivalism, perspectivism, perspectival realism, neuroscience, mechanisms
Subjects: General Issues > Scientific Metaphysics
Specific Sciences > Biology > Function/Teleology
Specific Sciences > Neuroscience > Cognitive Neuroscience
General Issues > Explanation
General Issues > Models and Idealization
Specific Sciences > Neuroscience > Molecular Neuroscience
General Issues > Realism/Anti-realism
Depositing User: Dr. Joe Dewhurst
Date Deposited: 21 Feb 2020 02:28
Last Modified: 21 Feb 2020 02:28
Item ID: 16935
Subjects: General Issues > Scientific Metaphysics
Specific Sciences > Biology > Function/Teleology
Specific Sciences > Neuroscience > Cognitive Neuroscience
General Issues > Explanation
General Issues > Models and Idealization
Specific Sciences > Neuroscience > Molecular Neuroscience
General Issues > Realism/Anti-realism
Date: 2020
URI: https://philsci-archive-dev.library.pitt.edu/id/eprint/16935

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