Extended Mechanistic Explanations: Expanding the Current Mechanistic Conception to Include More Complex Biological Systems


DOI: 10.1007/s10838-016-9356-6

Cite this article as:
Roe, S.M. & Baumgaertner, B. J Gen Philos Sci (2016). doi:10.1007/s10838-016-9356-6


Mechanistic accounts of explanation have recently found popularity within philosophy of science. Presently, we introduce the idea of an extended mechanistic explanation, which makes explicit room for the role of environment in explanation. After delineating Craver and Bechtel’s (2007) account, we argue this suggestion is not sufficiently robust when we take seriously the mechanistic environment and modeling practices involved in studying contemporary complex biological systems. Our goal is to extend the already profitable mechanistic picture by pointing out the importance of the mechanistic environment. It is our belief that extended mechanistic explanations, or mechanisms that take into consideration the temporal sequencing of the interplay between the mechanism and the environment, allow for mechanistic explanations regarding a broader group of scientific phenomena.


Mechanism Explanation Complex systems Mechanistic environment 

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of PhilosophySouthern Connecticut State UniversityNew HavenUSA
  2. 2.Department of PhilosophyUniversity of IdahoMoscowUSA

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