Single Idea 16559

[catalogued under 14. Science / D. Explanation / 2. Types of Explanation / i. Explanations by mechanism]

Full Idea

Nested hierachical descriptions of mechanisms typically bottom out in lowest level mechanisms. …Bottoming out is relative …the explanation comes to an end, and description of lower-level mechanisms would be irrelevant.

Gist of Idea

Descriptions of explanatory mechanisms have a bottom level, where going further is irrelevant


Machamer,P/Darden,L/Craver,C (Thinking About Mechanisms [2000], 5.1)

Book Reference

-: 'Philosophy of Science' [-], p.13

A Reaction

This seems to me exactly the right story about mechanism, and it is a story I am associating with essentialism. The relevance is ties to understanding. The lower level is either fully understood, or totally baffling.

Related Idea

Idea 16562 We understand something by presenting its low-level entities and activities [Machamer/Darden/Craver]