Dynamical Models: An Alternative or Complement to Mechanistic Explanations?


should be sent to William Bechtel, Department of Philosophy, University of California, San Diego, La Jolla, CA 92093-0119. E-mail: bill@mechanism.ucsd.edu


Abstract While agreeing that dynamical models play a major role in cognitive science, we reject Stepp, Chemero, and Turvey's contention that they constitute an alternative to mechanistic explanations. We review several problems dynamical models face as putative explanations when they are not grounded in mechanisms. Further, we argue that the opposition of dynamical models and mechanisms is a false one and that those dynamical models that characterize the operations of mechanisms overcome these problems. By briefly considering examples involving the generation of action potentials and circadian rhythms, we show how decomposing a mechanism and modeling its dynamics are complementary endeavors.