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The Mechanical World

The Metaphysical Commitments of the New Mechanistic Approach

  • Book
  • © 2018


  • Provides a metaphysical and conceptual analysis of the new mechanistic thinking
  • Shows that philosophy of science needs not only pay attention to actual science but also to metaphysics
  • Details how metaphysics matters to the empirical sciences

Part of the book series: Studies in Brain and Mind (SIBM, volume 13)

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About this book

This monograph examines the metaphysical commitments of the new mechanistic philosophy, a way of thinking that has returned to center stage. It challenges a variant of reductionism with regard to higher-level phenomena, which has crystallized as a default position among these so-called New Mechanists. Furthermore, it opposes those philosophers who reject the possibility of interlevel causation.

Contemporary philosophers believe that the explanation of scientific phenomena requires the discovery of relevant mechanisms. As a result, new mechanists are, in the main, concerned solely with epistemological questions. But, the author argues, their most central claims rely on metaphysical assumptions. Thus, they must also take into account metaphysics, a system of thought concerned with explaining the fundamental nature of being and the world around it. This branch of philosophy does indeed matter to the empirical sciences.

The chapters investigate the nature of mechanisms, their components, and the ways in which they can bring about different phenomena. In addition, the author develops a novel account of causation in terms of activities. 

The analysis provides the basis for many further research projects on mechanisms and their relations to, for example, the mind-body problem, realization, multiple realization, natural kinds, causation, laws of nature, counterfactuals, and scientific levels.

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Table of contents (8 chapters)


“The Mechanical World is a welcome addition to the new mechanistic philosophy. … The Mechanical World is an intellectually challenging book offering a particularly clear and rigorous discussion of some very important issues in contemporary philosophy of science. I am convinced philosophers and philosophically minded scientists will greatly enjoy and appreciate it.” (Tudor Baetu, History and Philosophy of the Life Sciences, Vol. 41 (4), 2019)

Authors and Affiliations

  • Department of Philosophy II, Ruhr-University Bochum, Bochum, Germany

    Beate Krickel

About the author

Beate Krickel is an Assistant Professor at the Philosophy Department II of Ruhr-University Bochum. She worked as a lecturer at Humboldt University Berlin where she did her PhD. She works on topics in the philosophy of science, metaphysics of mind and cognitive science and published articles in renowned journals.

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