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The New Mechanical Philosophy$
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Stuart Glennan

Print publication date: 2017

Print ISBN-13: 9780198779711

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: September 2017

DOI: 10.1093/oso/9780198779711.001.0001

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Types of Mechanisms

Types of Mechanisms

(p.106) 5 Types of Mechanisms
The New Mechanical Philosophy

Stuart Glennan

Oxford University Press

Minimal mechanism is a permissive conception that allows a vast and heterogeneous class of things to count as mechanisms. This chapter offers a taxonomic scheme to bring some order to that variety. Mechanisms are classified on four dimensions—the types of entities and activities of which they are made, the types of phenomena they produce, the different ways in which their entities and activities may be organized, and the different ways that the mechanisms come to be. This system of classification recognizes that mechanism tokens may at once be instances of many mechanism types, and that mechanism types may encompass sets of mechanism tokens that are in many respects heterogeneous. The chapter concludes by situating three varieties of mechanisms—machines, computational mechanisms, and social mechanisms—within this framework.

Keywords:   mechanism, taxonomy, organization, machines, social mechanisms, computational mechanisms

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