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The Mechanistic Stance

Lee, Jonny and Dewhurst, Joe (2020) The Mechanistic Stance. [Preprint]

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It is generally acknowledged by proponents of ‘new mechanism’ that mechanistic explanation involves adopting a perspective, but there is less agreement on how we should understand this perspective-taking or what its implications are (if any) for practising science. This paper examines the perspectival nature of mechanistic explanation through the lens of the ‘mechanistic stance’, which falls somewhere between Dennett’s more familiar physical and design stance. We argue this approach implies three distinct and significant ways in which mechanistic explanation can be interpreted as perspectival: ‘phenomenon perspectivism’, ‘pattern perspectivism’ and ‘hierarchy perspectivism’. We evaluate the strength of the perspective-dependency implied by each of these, and along the way, discuss their significance for wider debates within the new mechanism literature, such as the nature of function attribution and an ontic vs epistemic understanding of explanation.

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Item Type: Preprint
Keywords: mechanism, perspectivism,
Subjects: General Issues > Explanation
General Issues > Theory/Observation
Depositing User: Dr Jonny Lee
Date Deposited: 11 Dec 2020 14:46
Last Modified: 11 Dec 2020 14:46
Item ID: 18508
Subjects: General Issues > Explanation
General Issues > Theory/Observation
Date: 11 December 2020

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