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mechanism

mechanism, philosophical theory about the nature of organic systems, holding that organisms are machines in the sense that they are material systems. Mechanism seeks to explain biological processes, including behavior, within the framework of classical physics and chemistry. The mechanistic approach has caused great controversy and is considered by its opponents, including vitalists (who contend that living organisms must be explained in terms of a mysterious self-determining principle rather than in physical or chemical terms) as inadequate and oversimplified.

See A. R. Anderson, Minds and Machines (1964); R. E. Schofield, Mechanism and Materialism (1969).

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

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