International Society for History, Philosophy, and Social Studies of Biology

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MONDAY, JULY 6  /  19:00 - 20:30  /  Salle Marie Gérin-Lajoie
Multiple realization revisited: A mechanistic solution

Wei Fang (University of Sydney, Australia)

The multiple realization thesis (MRT) was first introduced as an argument against reductionism from mental kinds (properties, states, events, etc.) to physical kinds in philosophy of mind, but later expanded into many other philosophical areas such as philosophy of biology, philosophy of psychology, philosophy of neuroscience, etc. In this paper, to set the stage, I first exam Fodor’s version of the thesis, and then discuss Shapiro’s objection to this thesis based on his “causally relevant differences” account of realization. Then I point out that Shapiro’s conception of realization (and many others rejecting the MRT) is problematic, for it confuses constitutive relationship with causal relationship. After this, I argue that to fully comprehend the MRT and its implications, a new framework is called for, and mechanistic realization is a good candidate on offer. With this new framework, a mechanistic multiple realization (MMR) account is provided in place of the old version. Finally, two examples drawn from biological sciences are scrutinized in support of the MMR account.