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  1. Reutlinger Alexander & Andersen Holly (forthcoming). Abstract Versus Causal Explanations? International Studies in the Philosophy of Science.
    In the recent literature on causal and non-causal scientific explanations, there is an intuitive assumption (which we call the ‘abstractness assumption’) according to which an explanation is non-causal by virtue of being abstract. In this context, to be “abstract” means that the explanans in question leaves out many or almost all causal microphysical details of the target system. After motivating this assumption, we argue that the abstractness assumption, in placing the abstract and the causal character of an explanation in tension, (...)
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  2. 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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  3. 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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  4. Michael Baumgartner & Alexander Gebharter (2015). 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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  5. 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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  6. Eric G. Cavalcanti & Raymond Lal (2014). On Modifications of Reichenbach's Principle of Common Cause in Light of Bell's Theorem. Journal of Physics A: Mathematical and Theoretical 47 (42):424018.
    Bellʼs 1964 theorem causes a severe problem for the notion that correlations require explanation, encapsulated in Reichenbachʼs principle of common cause. Despite being a hallmark of scientific thought, dropping the principle has been widely regarded as much less bitter medicine than the perceived alternative—dropping relativistic causality. Recently, however, some authors have proposed that modified forms of Reichenbachʼs principle could be maintained even with relativistic causality. Here we break down Reichenbachʼs principle into two independent assumptions—the principle of common cause proper and (...)
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  7. David-rus (2012). Explaining by Using Artificial Societies. European Journal of Science and Theology 8 (3).
    Computational models have an increasing impact in social and historical sciences. In this paper, I will focus on a specific type of modelling developed in computational social sciences, an agent-based model. My inquiry will aim to identify the sort of explanatory virtues that such a model could have. I will discuss the suggested possibility of causal explanations but also the recent proposal advanced by Grüne-Yanoff that sees them as potential functional explanations. In the last part I shall make some suggestions (...)
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  8. 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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  9. Steven Ericsson-Zenith (forthcoming). Explaining Experience In Nature: The Foundations Of Logic And Apprehension. Institute for Advanced Science & Engineering.
    At its core this book is concerned with logic and computation with respect to the mathematical characterization of sentient biophysical structure and its behavior. -/- Three related theories are presented: The first of these provides an explanation of how sentient individuals come to be in the world. The second describes how these individuals operate. And the third proposes a method for reasoning about the behavior of individuals in groups. -/- These theories are based upon a new explanation of experience in (...)
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  10. L. R. Franklin-Hall (2014). High-Level Explanation and the Interventionist's 'Variables Problem'. British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 67 (2):axu040.
    The interventionist account of causal explanation, in the version presented by Jim Woodward, 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 presently (...)
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  11. Alexander Gebharter & Gerhard Schurz (2014). Editors' Introduction. Theoria. An International Journal for Theory, History and Foundations of Science 29 (1):5-7.
  12. 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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  13. 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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  14. Carl Hempel (1965). Aspects of Scientific Explanation and Other Essays in the Philosophy of Science. The Free Press.
  15. Spencer Phillips Hey (2016). Heuristics and Meta-Heuristics in Scientific Judgement. British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 67 (2):471-495.
    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 power comes at the cost of a systematic bias. As Wimsatt showed, biased modelling heuristics can conceal errors, leading to poor decisions or inaccurate models. This liability to produce errors presents a fundamental challenge to the philosophical (...)
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  16. 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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  17. Andreas Hüttemann, Reimer Kühn & Orestis Terzidis (2015). 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. Springer 169-200.
    We address the question whether there is an explanation for the fact that as Fodor put it the micro-level “converges on stable macro-level properties”, and whether there are lessons from this explanation for other issues in the vicinity. We argue that stability in large systems can be understood in terms of statistical limit theorems. In the thermodynamic limit of infinite system size N → ∞ systems will have strictly stable macroscopic properties in the sense that transitions between different macroscopic phases (...)
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  18. Todd Jones (2003). The Virtues of Non-Reduction, Even When Reduction is a Virtue. Philosophical Forum 34 (4):121-140.
    This paper aims to reduce the confusion about what our proper attitudes toward reductionism should be. I will begin by saying briefly why reductive explanations are generally desirable. I will then spend the bulk of the paper laying out what I consider to be the best epistemic reasons for thinking that developing non-reductive accounts is also highly desirable. I aim to show that the best arguments for the desirability of reduction, and for the desirability of non-reduction, are rooted less in (...)
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  19. William Krieger (2006). Can There Be a Philosophy of Archaeology: Processual Archaeology and the Philosophy of Science. Lexington Books.
  20. Pablo Lorenzano (2005). Comentarios a «Explicación teórica y compromisos ontológicos: un modelo estructuralista», de C. Ulises Moulines. Enrahonar 37:55-59.
    In this comment on the work by Ulises Moulines I shall not refer to the interesting analysis of the ontological commitments that depends the treatment of the so-called «data models», nor shall I debate the general metaphysical principles proposed in his approach, adopting an experimentalist, instrumentalist, anti-realistic, positivist or empirical stance. I shall focus on the last part of his article in which he elaborates on the links between Wesley Salmon’s causalist approach and the structuralist analysis of explanation viewed as (...)
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  21. P. D. Magnus (2015). John Stuart Mill on Taxonomy and Natural Kinds. Hopos: The Journal of the International Society for the History of Philosophy of Science 5 (2):269-280.
    The accepted narrative treats John Stuart Mill’s Kinds as the historical prototype for our natural kinds, but Mill actually employs two separate notions: Kinds and natural groups. Considering these, along with the accounts of Mill’s nineteenth-century interlocutors, forces us to recognize two distinct questions. First, what marks a natural kind as worthy of inclusion in taxonomy? Second, what exists in the world that makes a category meet that criterion? Mill’s two notions offer separate answers to the two questions: natural groups (...)
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  22. 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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  23. Rinat M. Nugayev (2006). The Growth of Knowledge as a Problem of Philosophy of Science. Filosofia Nauki (Philosophy of Science, Novosibirsk) 4 (31):3-19.
    The host of the growth of knowledge hallmarks, concocted by various philosophy of science models , is contemplated. It is enunciated that the most appropriate one is provided by methodology of scientific research programmes. Some salient drawbacks of the model, caused by the ambivalence of its basic notions, e.g. of the notions of ‘empirical content of a theory’, ‘progressive’ and ‘regressive’ ‘problemshifts’ can be mitigated by enriching the Lakatosian model with Nancy Cartwright’s results. To recapitulate: the genuine growth of knowledge (...)
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  24. 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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  25. Lydia Patton (2010). Henk de Regt, Sabina Leonelli, and Kai Eigner, Eds. Scientific Understanding. [REVIEW] Isis: A Journal of the History of Science 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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  26. 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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  27. 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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  28. Alexander Reutlinger (forthcoming). Does the Counterfactual Theory of Explanation Apply to Non-Causal Explanations in Metaphysics? European Journal for Philosophy of Science:1-18.
    In the recent philosophy of explanation, a growing attention to and discussion of non-causal explanations has emerged, as there seem to be compelling examples of non-causal explanations in the sciences, in pure mathematics, and in metaphysics. I defend the claim that the counterfactual theory of explanation (CTE) captures the explanatory character of both non-causal scientific and metaphysical explanations. According to the CTE, scientific and metaphysical explanations are explanatory by virtue of revealing counterfactual dependencies between the explanandum and the explanans. I (...)
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  29. Alexander Reutlinger (2014). Why Is There Universal Macrobehavior? Renormalization Group Explanation as Noncausal Explanation. Philosophy of Science 81 (5):1157-1170.
    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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  30. David-Hillel Ruben (1990). Explanation in the Social Sciences: Singular Explanation and the Social Sciences*: David-Hillel Ruben. Royal Institute of Philosophy Supplement 27:95-117.
    Are explanations in the social sciences fundamentally different from explanations in the natural sciences? Many philosophers think that they are, and I call such philosophers ‘difference theorists’. Many difference theorists locate that difference in the alleged fact that only in the natural sciences does explanation essentially include laws.
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  31. 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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  32. 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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  33. Vijai S. Shankar, What Does Understanding Mean? Understanding Life.
    So what does understanding mean? When understanding of life happens to man based on cause, effect and time, it is incomplete. They are the knowledgeable. And when understanding happens to man that life is not based on cause effect and time, it is complete. They are the wise or Sages.
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  34. 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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  35. 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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  36. Alison Wylie (1996). Unification and Convergence in Archaeological Explanation: The Agricultural “Wave-of-Advance” and the Origins of Indo-European Languages. Southern Journal of Philosophy 34 (S1):1-30.
    Given the diversity of explanatory practices that is typical of the sciences a healthy pluralism would seem to be desirable where theories of explanation are concerned. Nevertheless, I argue that explanations are only unifying in Kitcher's unificationist sense if they are backed by the kind of understanding of underlying mechanisms, dispositions, constitutions, and dependencies that is central to a causalist account of explanation. This case can be made through analysis of Kitcher's account of the conditions under which apparent improvements in (...)
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  37. Raymond Aaron Younis (forthcoming). Against Method, Against Science? On Logic, Order and Analogy in the Sciences. In Jeremy Horne (ed.), On logic and order in the sciences.
  38. Raymond Aaron Younis (1995). Of Problematology: Philosophy Science and Language. [REVIEW] Metascience (8).