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Can mechanisms really replace laws of nature?

Bert Leuridan (UGent)
(2010) PHILOSOPHY OF SCIENCE. 77(3). p.317-340
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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
Keywords
causality, laws of nature, EXPLANATION, SCIENCE, BIOLOGY, mechanisms, experiments

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Citation

Please use this url to cite or link to this publication:

Chicago
Leuridan, Bert. 2010. “Can Mechanisms Really Replace Laws of Nature?” Philosophy of Science 77 (3): 317–340.
APA
Leuridan, B. (2010). Can mechanisms really replace laws of nature? PHILOSOPHY OF SCIENCE, 77(3), 317–340.
Vancouver
1.
Leuridan B. Can mechanisms really replace laws of nature? PHILOSOPHY OF SCIENCE. 2010;77(3):317–40.
MLA
Leuridan, Bert. “Can Mechanisms Really Replace Laws of Nature?” PHILOSOPHY OF SCIENCE 77.3 (2010): 317–340. Print.
@article{999416,
  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},
  author       = {Leuridan, Bert},
  issn         = {0031-8248},
  journal      = {PHILOSOPHY OF SCIENCE},
  keyword      = {causality,laws of nature,EXPLANATION,SCIENCE,BIOLOGY,mechanisms,experiments},
  language     = {eng},
  number       = {3},
  pages        = {317--340},
  title        = {Can mechanisms really replace laws of nature?},
  url          = {http://dx.doi.org/10.1086/652959},
  volume       = {77},
  year         = {2010},
}

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