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  1. Holly Andersen (2014). A Field Guide to Mechanisms: Part I. Philosophy Compass 9 (4):274-283.
    In this field guide, I distinguish five separate senses with which the term ‘mechanism’ is used in contemporary philosophy of science. Many of these senses have overlapping areas of application but involve distinct philosophical claims and characterize the target mechanisms in relevantly different ways. This field guide will clarify the key features of each sense and introduce some main debates, distinguishing those that transpire within a given sense from those that are best understood as concerning distinct senses. The ‘new mechanisms’ (...)
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  2. Holly Andersen (2014). A Field Guide to Mechanisms: Part II. Philosophy Compass 9 (4):284-293.
    In this field guide, I distinguish five separate senses with which the term ‘mechanism’ is used in contemporary philosophy of science. Many of these senses have overlapping areas of application but involve distinct philosophical claims and characterize the target mechanisms in relevantly different ways. This field guide will clarify the key features of each sense and introduce some main debates, distinguishing those that transpire within a given sense from those that are best understood as concerning two distinct senses. The ‘new (...)
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  3. Michael Baumgartner & Alexander Gebharter (forthcoming). Constitutive Relevance, Mutual Manipulability, and Fat-Handedness. British Journal for the Philosophy of Science.
    The first part of this paper argues that if Craver’s ([2007a], [2007b]) popular mutual manipulability account (MM) of mechanistic constitution is embedded within Woodward’s ([2003]) interventionist theory of causation--for which it is explicitly designed--it either undermines the mechanistic research paradigm by entailing that there do not exist relationships of constitutive relevance or it gives rise to the unwanted consequence that constitution is a form of causation. The second part shows how Woodward’s theory can be adapted in such a way that (...)
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  4. Mike Braverman, John Clevenger, Ian Harmon, Andrew Higgins, Zachary Horne, Joseph Spino & Jonathan Waskan (2012). Intelligibility is Necessary for Scientific Explanation, but Accuracy May Not Be. In Naomi Miyake, David Peebles & Richard Cooper (eds.), Proceedings of the Thirty-Fourth Annual Conference of the Cognitive Science Society. Cognitive Science Society.
    Many philosophers of science believe that empirical psychology can contribute little to the philosophical investigation of explanations. They take this to be shown by the fact that certain explanations fail to elicit any relevant psychological events (e.g., familiarity, insight, intelligibility, etc.). We report results from a study suggesting that, at least among those with extensive science training, a capacity to render an event intelligible is considered a requirement for explanation. We also investigate for whom explanations must be capable of rendering (...)
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  5. Gregory W. Dawes (2007). What is Wrong with Intelligent Design? International Journal for Philosophy of Religion 61 (2):69 - 81.
    While a great deal of abuse has been directed at intelligent design theory (ID), its starting point is a fact about biological organisms that cries out for explanation, namely "specified complexity" (SC). Advocates of ID deploy three kind of argument from specified complexity to the existence of a designer: an eliminative argument, an inductive argument, and an inference to the best explanation. Only the first of these merits the abuse directed at it; the other two arguments are worthy of respect. (...)
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  6. L. R. Franklin-Hall (forthcoming). High-Level Explanation and the Interventionist's 'Variables Problem'. British Journal for the Philosophy of Science:axu040.
    The interventionist account of causal explanation, in the version presented by Jim Woodward (2003), has been recently claimed capable of buttressing the widely felt—though poorly understood—hunch that high-level, relatively abstract explanations, of the sort provided by sciences like biology, psychology and economics, are in some cases explanatorily optimal. It is the aim of this paper to show that this is mistaken. Due to a lack of effective constraints on the causal variables at the heart of the interventionist causal-explanatory scheme, as (...)
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  7. Alexander Gebharter & Gerhard Schurz (2014). Explanation, Causality, and Unification. Theoria. An International Journal for Theory, History and Foundations of Science 29 (1):5-7.
  8. S. T. Goh (1970). The Logic of Explanation in Anthropology. Inquiry 13 (1-4):339 – 359.
    This paper is about the problem of explanation in anthropology. There are, broadly speaking, three theories of explanation, namely, the scientific theory, the historical theory, and finally what I have decided to call the phenomenological theory, after M. Natanson. The author argues that none of the three theories is adequate by itself to encompass the complex nature of anthropological science. The three theories correspond roughly to at least three different types of questions raised by anthropologists, and this being the case (...)
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  9. Matthew C. Haug (2011). Abstraction and Explanatory Relevance; or, Why Do the Special Sciences Exist? Philosophy of Science 78 (5):1143-1155.
    Non-reductive physicalists have long held that the special sciences offer explanations of some phenomena that are objectively superior to physical explanations. This explanatory “autonomy” has largely been based on the multiple realizability argument. Recently, in the face of the local reduction and disjunctive property responses to multiple realizability, some defenders of non-reductive physicalism have suggested that autonomy can be grounded merely in human cognitive limitations. In this paper, I argue that this is mistaken. By distinguishing between two kinds of abstraction (...)
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  10. Carl Hempel (1965). Aspects of Scientific Explanation and Other Essays in the Philosophy of Science. The Free Press.
  11. Spencer Phillips Hey (forthcoming). Heuristics and Meta-Heuristics in Scientific Judgment. British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 2015.
    Despite the increasing recognition that heuristics may be involved in myriad scientific activities, much about how to use them prudently remains obscure. As typically defined, heuristics are efficient rules or procedures for converting complex problems into simpler ones. But this increased efficiency and problem-solving comes at the cost of a systematic bias. As Wimsatt (1980, 2007) showed, biased modeling heuristics can conceal errors, leading to poor decisions or inaccurate models. This liability to produce errors presents a fundamental challenge to the (...)
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  12. Andreas Hüttemann (forthcoming). Physicalism and the Part-Whole Relation. In Christian Wüthrich & Tomasz Bigaj (eds.), Metaphysics in Contemporary Physics.
    In this paper I intend to analyse whether a certain kind of physicalism (part-wholephysicalism)is supported by what classical mechanics and quantum mechanics have to say about the part whole relation. I will argue that not even the most likely candidates – namely cases of microexplanation of the dynamics of compound systems – provide evidence for part whole-physicalism, i.e. the thesis that the behaviour of the compound obtains in virtue of the behaviour of the parts. Physics does not dictate part-whole-physicalism.
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  13. Andreas Hüttemann, Reimer Kühn & Orestis Terzidis (forthcoming). Stability, Emergence and Part-Whole-Reduction. In Brigitte Falkenburg & Margret Morrison (eds.), Why More Is Different. Philosophical Issues in Condensed Matter Physics and Complex Systems.
  14. Robert Northcott (2013). Degree of Explanation. Synthese 190 (15):3087-3105.
    Partial explanations are everywhere. That is, explanations citing causes that explain some but not all of an effect are ubiquitous across science, and these in turn rely on the notion of degree of explanation. I argue that current accounts are seriously deficient. In particular, they do not incorporate adequately the way in which a cause’s explanatory importance varies with choice of explanandum. Using influential recent contrastive theories, I develop quantitative definitions that remedy this lacuna, and relate it to existing measures (...)
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  15. Andrés Páez (2009). Artificial Explanations: The Epistemological Interpretation of Explanation in Ai. Synthese 170 (1):131 - 146.
    In this paper I critically examine the notion of explanation used in artificial intelligence in general, and in the theory of belief revision in particular. I focus on two of the best known accounts in the literature: Pagnucco’s abductive expansion functions and Gärdenfors’ counterfactual analysis. I argue that both accounts are at odds with the way in which this notion has historically been understood in philosophy. They are also at odds with the explanatory strategies used in actual scientific practice. At (...)
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  16. Lydia Patton (2009). Scientific Understanding. [REVIEW] Isis 101 (4):932-933..
    In _Aspects of Scientific Explanation_ (New York, 1965), Carl Hempel argued that the philosophy of science should focus on objectivist explanation and should not incorporate an account of pragmatic or subjective understanding. The stated aim of this collection of essays is to argue against Hempel's objectivist view by arguing for incorporating accounts of understanding into the philosophy of science and by giving a substantive account of the role of understanding in modeling and in scientific practice. The volume is ambitious and (...)
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  17. Garrett Pendergraft (2011). In Defense of a Causal Requirement on Explanation. In Phyllis McKay Illari Federica Russo (ed.), Causality in the Sciences. Oxford University Press. 470.
    Causalists about explanation claim that to explain an event is to provide information about the causal history of that event. Some causalists also endorse a proportionality claim, namely that one explanation is better than another insofar as it provides a greater amount of causal information. In this chapter I consider various challenges to these causalist claims. There is a common and influential formulation of the causalist requirement – the ‘Causal Process Requirement’ – that does appear vulnerable to these anti-causalist challenges, (...)
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  18. Johannes Persson (2012). Mechanistic Explanation in Social Contexts: Elster and the Problem of Local Scientific Growth. Social Epistemology 26 (1):105-114.
    Jon Elster worries about the explanatory power of the social sciences. His main concern is that they have so few well-established laws. Elster develops an interesting substitute: a special kind of mechanism designed to fill the explanatory gap between laws and mere description. However, his mechanisms suffer from a characteristic problem that I will explore in this article. As our causal knowledge of a specific problem grows we might come to know too much to make use of an Elsterian mechanism (...)
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  19. Alexander Reutlinger (forthcoming). Why Is There Universal Macro-Behavior? Renormalization Group Explanation As Non-Causal Explanation. Philosophy of Science.
    Renormalization group (RG) methods are an established strategy to explain how it is possible that microscopically different systems exhibit virtually the same macro behavior when undergoing phase-transitions. I argue – in agreement with Robert Batterman – that RG explanations are non-causal explanations. However, Batterman misidentifies the reason why RG explanations are non-causal: it is not the case that an explanation is non- causal if it ignores causal details. I propose an alternative argument, according to which RG explanations are non-causal explanations (...)
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  20. Wójcicki Ryszard (2007). Review of Paweł Kawalec, Przyczyna I Wyjaśnianie. Studium Z Metodologii I Filozofii Nauki, Lublin: Wydawnictwo KUL. Polish Journal of Philosophy 1 (2):147-149.
    Review of Paweł Kawalec, Przyczyna i wyjaśnianie. Studium z metodologii i filozofii nauki, Lublin: Wydawnictwo KUL.
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  21. Scott Scheall, Lesser Degrees of Explanation: Some Implications of F.A. Hayek’s Methodology of Sciences of Complex Phenomena.
    From the early-1950s on, F.A. Hayek was concerned with the development of a methodology of sciences that study systems of complex phenomena. Hayek argued that the knowledge that can be acquired about such systems is, in virtue of their complexity (and the comparatively narrow boundaries of human cognitive faculties), relatively limited. The paper aims to elucidate the implications of Hayek’s methodology with respect to the specific dimensions along which the scientist’s knowledge of some complex phenomena may be limited. Hayek’s fallibilism (...)
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  22. Jonathan Waskan (2008). Knowledge of Counterfactual Interventions Through Cognitive Models of Mechanisms. International Studies in the Philosophy of Science 22 (3):259 – 275.
    Here I consider the relative merits of two recent models of explanation, James Woodward's interventionist-counterfactual model and the model model. According to the former, explanations are largely constituted by information about the consequences of counterfactual interventions. Problems arise for this approach because countless relevant interventions are possible in most cases and because it overlooks other kinds of equally relevant information. According the model model, explanations are largely constituted by cognitive models of actual mechanisms. On this approach, explanations tend not to (...)
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  23. Cory D. Wright (2012). Mechanistic Explanation Without the Ontic Conception. European Journal of Philosophy of Science 2 (3):375-394.
    The ontic conception of scientific explanation has been constructed and motivated on the basis of a putative lexical ambiguity in the term explanation. I raise a puzzle for this ambiguity claim, and then give a deflationary solution under which all ontically-rendered talk of explanation is merely elliptical; what it is elliptical for is a view of scientific explanation that altogether avoids the ontic conception. This result has revisionary consequences for New Mechanists and other philosophers of science, many of whom have (...)
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