How Organization Explains
- 730 Downloads
Constitutive mechanistic explanations explain a property of a whole with the properties of its parts and their organization. Carl Craver’s mutual manipulability criterion for constitutive relevance only captures the explanatory relevance of causal properties of parts and leaves the organization side of mechanistic explanation unaccounted for. We use the contrastive counterfactual theory of explanation and an account of the dimensions of organization to build a typology of organizational dependence. We analyse organizational explanations in terms of such dependencies and emphasize the importance of modular organizational motifs. We apply this framework to two cases from social science and systems biology, both fields in which organization plays a crucial explanatory role: agent-based simulations of residential segregation and the recent work on network motifs in transcription regulation networks.
KeywordsOrganizational Dependence Explanatory Relevance Network Motifs Mutual Manipulability Constitutive Dependence
We thank Caterina Marchionni and the audience at EPSA 2011 for their valuable comments. This research has been financially supported by the Academy of Finland.
- Fossett, M. (2006). Ethnic preferences, social distance dynamics, and residential segregation: Theoretical explorations using simulation analysis. The Journal of Mathematical Sociology, 30(3–4), 185–273.Google Scholar
- Schelling, T. C. (1978). Micromotives and macrobehavior. London/New York: W. W. Norton.Google Scholar
- Wimsatt, W. (2007). Re-engineering philosophy for limited beings: Piecewise approximations to reality. Cambridge: Harvard University Press.Google Scholar
- Woodward, J. (2003). Making things happen: A theory of causal explanation. New York: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
- Ylikoski, P. (2009). The illusion of depth of understanding in science. In H. De Regt, S. Leonelli, & K. Eigner (Eds.), Scientific understanding: Philosophical perspectives (pp.100–119). Pittsburgh: Pittsburgh University Press.Google Scholar