European Journal for Philosophy of Science

, Volume 2, Issue 1, pp 119–135

What is a mechanism? Thinking about mechanisms across the sciences

Original paper in Metaphysics of Science

DOI: 10.1007/s13194-011-0038-2

Cite this article as:
Illari, P.M. & Williamson, J. Euro Jnl Phil Sci (2012) 2: 119. doi:10.1007/s13194-011-0038-2


After a decade of intense debate about mechanisms, there is still no consensus characterization. In this paper we argue for a characterization that applies widely to mechanisms across the sciences. We examine and defend our disagreements with the major current contenders for characterizations of mechanisms. Ultimately, we indicate that the major contenders can all sign up to our characterization.


Mechanism Explanation MDC Glennan Bechtel Astrophysical mechanism 

Copyright information

© Springer Science + Business Media B.V. 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Philosophy DepartmentUniversity of KentCanterbury KentUK

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