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mechanism


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The belief that everything can be explained in ways modelled on 17th-century conceptions of scientific explanation. This took its paradigm from the quantitative laws governing the interactions of particles, in terms of which the other properties of materials could ultimately be understood (see atomism, corpuscularianism, Galilean world view). Mechanism in biology is the view that animals are to be regarded as material systems, and it is as a result hostile to final causes or teleology. Modern physicalism has a more sophisticated conception both of scientific explanation, and of the possibility of reconciling it with teleological explanation, thought of as founded on a basis of natural selection.

Subjects: Philosophy.


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