Difference making, explanatory relevance, and mechanistic models

Dingmar Van Eck, Raoul Gervais
2016 THEORIA : an International Journal for Theory, History and Fundations of Science  
In this paper we consider mechanistic explanations for biologic malfunctions. Drawing on Lipton's (1993) work on difference making, we offer three reasons why one should distinguish i) mechanistic features that only make a difference to the malfunction one aims to explain, from ii) features that make a difference to both the malfunction and normal functioning. Recognition of the distinction is important for a) repair purposes, b) mechanism discovery, and c) understanding. This analysis extends
more » ... s analysis extends current mechanistic thinking, which fails to appreciate the distinction. We illustrate our contribution with a case on sleeping disorders as arising from disruptions of circadian rhythms.
doi:10.1387/theoria.13282 fatcat:ffraq73or5gzfov4ldrpxmvmey