How Organization Explains

  • Jaakko KuorikoskiEmail author
  • Petri Ylikoski
Conference paper
Part of the The European Philosophy of Science Association Proceedings book series (EPSP, volume 2)


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.


Organizational Dependence Explanatory Relevance Network Motifs Mutual Manipulability Constitutive Dependence 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.



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.


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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing Switzerland 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Social and Moral Philosophy/Department of Political and Economic StudiesUniversity of HelsinkiHelsinkiFinland
  2. 2.Department of Social ResearchUniversity of HelsinkiHelsinkiFinland

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