Moving parts: the natural alliance between dynamical and mechanistic modeling approaches

David Michael Kaplan*

*Corresponding author for this work

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    30 Citations (Scopus)


    Recently, it has been provocatively claimed that dynamical modeling approaches signal the emergence of a new explanatory framework distinct from that of mechanistic explanation. This paper rejects this proposal and argues that dynamical explanations are fully compatible with, even naturally construed as, instances of mechanistic explanations. Specifically, it is argued that the mathematical framework of dynamics provides a powerful descriptive scheme for revealing temporal features of activities in mechanisms and plays an explanatory role to the extent it is deployed for this purpose. It is also suggested that more attention should be paid to the distinctive methodological contributions of the dynamical framework including its usefulness as a heuristic for mechanism discovery and hypothesis generation in contemporary neuroscience and biology.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)757-786
    Number of pages30
    JournalBiology and Philosophy
    Issue number6
    Publication statusPublished - 1 Nov 2015


    • mechanism
    • dynamics
    • explanation
    • models
    • neuroscience


    Dive into the research topics of 'Moving parts: the natural alliance between dynamical and mechanistic modeling approaches'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

    Cite this