Mechanismic Approaches to Explanation in Ecology

  • Rafael González del SolarEmail author
  • Luis Marone
  • Javier Lopez de Casenave


The search for mechanisms has been a common practice in scientific research. However, since the empiricist critique of causality, and especially during the second third of the twentieth century, other non-mechanistic perspectives—especially deductivism—gained predominance. But the sustained effort of authors such as Michael Scriven, Mario Bunge and especially Wesley Salmon contributed to restoring the respectability of causality and mechanisms in philosophy of science. Some members of the causal family, usually lumped under the name of “new mechanistic philosophy”, emphasize the description of mechanisms, especially causal ones, as a central aspect of explanation and other research practices in several areas of science. This approach offers viable solutions to the various ontological and methodological objections that are opposed to the two traditional approaches (the purely deductive and the purely causal). In this work the basic characteristics of three philosophies that highlight the description of mechanisms as a central element to explanation and their suitability for the science of ecology are discussed.


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Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Rafael González del Solar
    • 1
    Email author
  • Luis Marone
    • 2
  • Javier Lopez de Casenave
    • 3
  1. 1.Philosophy DepartmentAutonomous University of BarcelonaBarcelonaSpain
  2. 2.Facultad de Ciencias Exactas y NaturalesUniversidad Nacional de Cuyo y CONICETMendozaArgentina
  3. 3.Departamento de Ecología, Genética & Evolución, Facultad de Ciencias Exactas y NaturalesUniversidad de Buenos AiresBuenos AiresArgentina

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