Mechanistic Explanations in Physics and Beyond

  • Brigitte Falkenburg
  • Gregor Schiemann

Part of the European Studies in Philosophy of Science book series (ESPS, volume 11)

Table of contents

  1. Front Matter
    Pages i-viii
  2. Brigitte Falkenburg, Gregor Schiemann
    Pages 1-7
  3. Mechanisms in History and Today

    1. Front Matter
      Pages 9-9
    2. Stathis Psillos, Stavros Ioannidis
      Pages 11-31
    3. Gregor Schiemann
      Pages 33-46
  4. Mechanisms, Causality, and Multilevel Systems

  5. From Physics to Complexity and Computation

    1. Front Matter
      Pages 163-163
    2. Vincenzo Fano, Pierluigi Graziani, Mirko Tagliaferri, Gino Tarozzi
      Pages 207-220

About this book


This volume offers a broad, philosophical discussion on mechanical explanations. Coverage ranges from historical approaches and general questions to physics and higher-level sciences . The contributors also consider the topics of complexity, emergence, and reduction.

Mechanistic explanations detail how certain properties of a whole stem from the causal activities of its parts. This kind of explanation is in particular employed in explanatory models of the behavior of complex systems. Often used in biology and neuroscience, mechanistic explanation models have been often overlooked in the philosophy of physics.

The authors correct this surprising neglect. They trace these models back to their origins in physics. The papers present a comprehensive historical, methodological, and problem-oriented investigation. The contributors also investigate the conditions for using models of mechanistic explanations in physics. The last papers make the bridge from physics to economics, the theory of complex systems and computer science .

This book will appeal to graduate students and researchers with an interest in the philosophy of science, scientific explanation, complex systems, models of explanation in physics higher level sciences, and  causal mechanisms in science.


Autonomous Action in Complex Mechanical Systems Causal Explanation Causal Mechanisms in Science Complex Systems Computation and Reality Computer Simulations in Physics Mechanical Philosophy of the Seventeenth Century Mechanistic Explanation Models of Explanation in Computer Science Models of Explanation in Physics Multilevel Reality and Mechanistic Explanations New Mechanistic Philosophy New Mechanistic Turn of Causal Epistemology Non-Reductionist Accounts of Explanation in the sciences Scientific Explanation Top-Down and Bottom-Up Approaches of Physics Multilevel Reality Mechanisms in Physics

Editors and affiliations

  • Brigitte Falkenburg
    • 1
  • Gregor Schiemann
    • 2
  1. 1.Technische Universität DortmundDortmundGermany
  2. 2.Bergische Universität WuppertalWuppertalGermany

Bibliographic information