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"Parts, Wholes, Processes, and Rates: From Rigid to Dynamic Mechanisms" Jan Baedke (University of Bochum)

Egenis Seminar

In the last ten years a number of authors of the new mechanistic philosophy have argued for conceptualizing the relations traced in causal-mechanistic explanations in the biosciences by means of the idea of compositional constitution. In other words, ‘vertical’ relations across levels of organization in mechanisms exhibit constitution and inter-level parthood. For many ‘new mechanists’ this means that changes in the causal properties of parts constitutively (not causally) make a difference in the properties of wholes. This paper show that (i) this conceptualization of inter-level relations leads to a view of ‘rigid mechanisms’. (ii) It radically contradicts those mechanistic investigations in biology seeking to understand the vertical build-up of organisms diachronically and over time, respectively. Thus, (iii) a new view of ‘dynamic mechanisms’ is presented that is able to overcome this problem by conceptualizing vertical relations in mechanisms in a more dynamic manner. It is centered not on the concepts of constitution and parthood but on causal process and rate. Investigations in evolutionary developmental biology (evo-devo) of the origin and change of levels of organization (i.e. evolutionary novelty and evolvability) will be reviewed to support these findings.

An Egenis, the Centre for the Study of Life Sciences seminar
Date7 March 2016
Time15:30 to 17:00
PlaceByrne House


Byrne House