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  1. Jiri Benovsky (2013). Primitiveness, Metaontology, and Explanatory Power. Dialogue 52 (2):341-358.
    Metaphysical theories heavily rely on the use of primitives to which they typically appeal. I will start by examining and evaluating some traditional well-known theories and I will discuss the role of primitives in metaphysical theories in general. I will then turn to a discussion of claims of between theories that, I think, depend on equivalences of primitives, and I will explore the nature of primitives. I will then claim that almost all explanatory power of metaphysical theories comes from their (...)
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  2. Alexander Bird (2006). Selection and Explanation. In , Rethinking Explanation. Springer. 131--136.
    Selection explanations explain some non-accidental generalizations in virtue of a selection process. Such explanations are not particulaizable - they do not transfer as explanations of the instances of such generalizations. This is unlike many explanations in the physical sciences, where the explanation of the general fact also provides an explanation of its instances (i.e. standard D-N explanations). Are selection explanations (e.g. in biology) therefore a different kind of explanation? I argue that to understand this issue, we need to see that (...)
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  3. David Boersema (2003). Peirce on Explanation. Journal of Speculative Philosophy 17 (3):224-236.
    There has been a recent focused effort in philosophical scholarship to bridge the perceived divide between pragmatism and analytic philosophy. This divide, it has been suggested, is over philosophical doctrines, methods, and even aims. This is not to say there has not been fruitful—even if antagonistic—dialogue between these two philosophical traditions. Clearly there has been, e.g., Russell's famous (or infamous) disputes with James and Dewey. Clearly also, there has been direct philosophical influence from one tradition to the other, e.g., Peirce (...)
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  4. C. E. Cleland (2011). Prediction and Explanation in Historical Natural Science. British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 62 (3):551-582.
    In earlier work ( Cleland [2001] , [2002]), I sketched an account of the structure and justification of ‘prototypical’ historical natural science that distinguishes it from ‘classical’ experimental science. This article expands upon this work, focusing upon the close connection between explanation and justification in the historical natural sciences. I argue that confirmation and disconfirmation in these fields depends primarily upon the explanatory (versus predictive or retrodictive) success or failure of hypotheses vis-à-vis empirical evidence. The account of historical explanation that (...)
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  5. Fred I. Dretske (1970). Epistemic Operators. Journal of Philosophy 67 (24):1007-1023.
  6. Stephen Kearns & Daniel Star (2008). Reasons: Explanations or Evidence? Ethics 119 (1):31-56.
  7. Marc Lange (2009). Dimensional Explanations. Noûs 43 (4):742-775.
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  8. Uri D. Leibowitz (2011). Scientific Explanation and Moral Explanation. Noûs 45 (3):472-503.
    Moral philosophers are, among other things, in the business of constructing moral theories. And moral theories are, among other things, supposed to explain moral phenomena. Consequently, one’s views about the nature of moral explanation will influence the kinds of moral theories one is willing to countenance. Many moral philosophers are (explicitly or implicitly) committed to a deductive model of explanation. As I see it, this commitment lies at the heart of the current debate between moral particularists and moral generalists. In (...)
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  9. Cynthia Macdonald & Graham Macdonald (2008). Explanation in Historiography. In A. Tucker (ed.), A Companion to the Philosophy of History and Historiography. Blackwell.
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  10. Nicholas Maxwell, Comprehensibility Rather Than Beauty. PhilSci Archive.
    Most scientists and philosophers of science recognize that, when it comes to accepting and rejecting theories in science, considerations that have to do with simplicity, unity, symmetry, elegance, beauty or explanatory power have an important role to play, in addition to empirical considerations. Until recently, however, no one has been able to give a satisfactory account of what simplicity (etc.) is, or how giving preference to simple theories is to be justified. But in the last few years, two different but (...)
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  11. G. Randolph Mayes (2000). Resisting Explanation. Argumentation 14 (4):361-380.
    Although explanation is widely regarded as an important concept in the study of rational inquiry, it remains largely unexplored outside the philosophy of science. This, I believe, is not due to oversight as much as to institutional resistance. In analytic philosophy it is basic that epistemic rationality is a function of justification and that justification is a function of argument. Explanation, however, is not argument nor is belief justification its function. I argue here that the task of incorporating explanation into (...)
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  12. Bernhard Nickel (2010). How General Do Theories of Explanation Need To Be? Noûs 44 (2):305 - 328.
    Theories of explanation seek to tell us what distinctively explanatory information is. The most ambitious ones, such as the DN-account, seek to tell us what an explanation is, tout court. Less ambitious ones, such as causal theories, restrict themselves to a particular domain of inquiry. The least ambitious theories constitute outright skepticism, holding that there is no reasonably unified phenomenon to give an account of. On these views, it is impossible to give any theories of explanation at all. I argue (...)
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  13. Stathos Psillos (2002). Causation and Explanation. Acumen.
    This book is copyright under the Berne Convention. No reproduction without permission. All rights reserved.
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  14. David-Hillel Ruben (ed.) (1993). Explanation. Oxford University Press.
    The aim of this series is to bring together important recent writings in major areas of philosophical inquiry, selected from a variety of sources, mostly periodicals, which may not be conveniently available to the university student or the general reader. The editor of each volume contributes an introductory essay on the items chosen and on the questions with which they deal. A selective bibliography is appended as a guide to further reading. This volume presents a selection of the most important (...)
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  15. David-Hillel Ruben (1993). Introduction. In D.-H. Ruben (ed.), Explanation. Oxford University Press.
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  16. David-Hillel Ruben (1989). The Ontology of Explanation. In Fred D'Agostino & I. C. Jarvie (eds.), Freedom and Rationality. Reidel. 67--85.
    In an explanation, what does the explaining and what gets explained? What are the relata of the explanation relation? Candidates include: people, events, facts, sentences, statements, and propositions.
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  17. David Slutsky (2012). Confusion and Dependence in Uses of History. Synthese 184 (3):261-286.
    Many people argue that history makes a special difference to the subjects of biology and psychology, and that history does not make this special difference to other parts of the world. This paper will show that historical properties make no more or less of a difference to biology or psychology than to chemistry, physics, or other sciences. Although historical properties indeed make a certain kind of difference to biology and psychology, this paper will show that historical properties make the same (...)
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Explanation and Laws
  1. Peter Achinstein (1971). Law and Explanation: An Essay in the Philosophy of Science. London,Oxford University Press.
  2. Alexander Bird (1999). Explanation and Laws. Synthese 120 (1):1--18.
    In this paper I examine two aspects of Hempel’s covering-law models of explanation. These are (i) nomic subsumption and (ii) explication by models. Nomic subsumption is the idea that to explain a fact is to show how it falls under some appropriate law. This conception of explanation Hempel explicates using a pair of models, where, in this context, a model is a template or pattern such that if something fits it, then that thing is an explanation. A range of well-known (...)
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  3. Darren Bradley (2013). Functionalism and The Independence Problems. Noûs 47 (1):545-557.
    The independence problems for functionalism stem from the worry that if functional properties are defined in terms of their causes and effects then such functional properties seem to be too intimately connected to these purported causes and effects. I distinguish three different ways the independence problems can be filled out – in terms of necessary connections, analytic connections and vacuous explanations. I argue that none of these present serious problems. Instead, they bring out some important and over-looked features of functionalism.
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  4. Nancy Cartwright (1980). The Truth Doesn't Explain Much. American Philosophical Quarterly 17 (2):159 - 163.
  5. William H. Dray (1979). Laws and Explanation in History. Greenwood Press.
  6. Evan Fales (1980). Uniqueness and Historical Laws. Philosophy of Science 47 (2):260-276.
    This paper presents an argument for the claim that historical events are unique in a nontrivial sense which entails the inapplicability of the Hempelian D-N model to historical explanations. Some previous criticisms of Hempel are shown to be general criticisms of the D-N model which can be outflanked in cases where a reduction to fundamental laws is available. I then survey grounds for denying that explanations by reasons can be effectively reduced to causal explanations, and for rejecting methodological individualism. I (...)
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  7. Michael Townsen Hicks & Peter van Elswyk (forthcoming). Humean Laws and Circular Explanation. Philosophical Studies.
    Humeans are often accused of accounting for natural laws in such a way that the fundamental entities that are supposed to explain the laws circle back and explain themselves. Loewer (Philos Stud 160(1):115–137, 2012) contends this is only the appearance of circularity. When it comes to the laws of nature, the Humean posits two kinds of explanation: metaphysical and scientific. The circle is then cut because the kind of explanation the laws provide for the fundamental entities is distinct from the (...)
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  8. Tyler Hildebrand (2014). Can Bare Dispositions Explain Categorical Regularities? Philosophical Studies 167 (3):569-584.
    One of the traditional desiderata for a metaphysical theory of laws of nature is that it be able to explain natural regularities. Some philosophers have postulated governing laws to fill this explanatory role. Recently, however, many have attempted to explain natural regularities without appealing to governing laws. Suppose that some fundamental properties are bare dispositions. In virtue of their dispositional nature, these properties must be (or are likely to be) distributed in regular patterns. Thus it would appear that an ontology (...)
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  9. Tyler Hildebrand (2013). Can Primitive Laws Explain? Philosophers' Imprint 13 (15):1-15.
    One reason to posit governing laws is to explain the uniformity of nature. Explanatory power can be purchased by accepting new primitives, and scientists invoke laws in their explanations without providing any supporting metaphysics. For these reasons, one might suspect that we can treat laws as wholly unanalyzable primitives. (John Carroll’s *Laws of Nature* (1994) and Tim Maudlin’s *The Metaphysics Within Physics* (2007) offer recent defenses of primitivism about laws.) Whatever defects primitive laws might have, explanatory weakness should not be (...)
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  10. C. Hitchcock (1999). Contrastive Explanation and the Demons of Determinism. British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 50 (4):585-612.
    It it tempting to think that if an outcome had some probability of not occurring, then we cannot explain why that outcome in fact occurred. Despite this intuition, most philosophers of science have come to admit the possibility of indeterministic explanation. Yet some of them continue to hold that if an outcome was not determined, it cannot be explained why that outcome rather than some other occurred. I argue that this is an untenable compromise: if indeterministic explanation is possible, then (...)
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  11. Marc Lange (2013). Grounding, Scientific Explanation, and Humean Laws. Philosophical Studies 164 (1):255-261.
    It has often been argued that Humean accounts of natural law cannot account for the role played by laws in scientific explanations. Loewer (Philosophical Studies 2012) has offered a new reply to this argument on behalf of Humean accounts—a reply that distinguishes between grounding (which Loewer portrays as underwriting a kind of metaphysical explanation) and scientific explanation. I will argue that Loewer’s reply fails because it cannot accommodate the relation between metaphysical and scientific explanation. This relation also resolves a puzzle (...)
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  12. Marc Lange (2000). Natural Laws in Scientific Practice. Oxford University Press.
    It is often presumed that the laws of nature have special significance for scientific reasoning. But the laws' distinctive roles have proven notoriously difficult to identify--leading some philosophers to question if they hold such roles at all. This study offers original accounts of the roles that natural laws play in connection with counterfactual conditionals, inductive projections, and scientific explanations, and of what the laws must be in order for them to be capable of playing these roles. Particular attention is given (...)
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  13. Catherine Legg (1999). Real Law in Charles Peirce's Pragmaticism. In Howard Sankey (ed.), Causation and Laws of Nature. Kluwer. 125--142.
    How scholastic realism met the scientific method.
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  14. Bert Leuridan (2010). Can Mechanisms Really Replace Laws of Nature? Philosophy of Science 77 (3):317-340.
    Today, mechanisms and mechanistic explanation are very popular in philosophy of science and are deemed a welcome alternative to laws of nature and deductive‐nomological explanation. Starting from Mitchell's pragmatic notion of laws, I cast doubt on their status as a genuine alternative. I argue that (1) all complex‐systems mechanisms ontologically must rely on stable regularities, while (2) the reverse need not hold. Analogously, (3) models of mechanisms must incorporate pragmatic laws, while (4) such laws themselves need not always refer to (...)
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  15. Peter Mittelstaedt (forthcoming). Explanation of Physical Phenomena by Laws of Nature. Epistemologia.
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  16. Joel Press (2009). Physical Explanations and Biological Explanations, Empirical Laws and a Priori Laws. Biology and Philosophy 24 (3):359-374.
    Philosophers intent upon characterizing the difference between physics and biology often seize upon the purported fact that physical explanations conform more closely to the covering law model than biological explanations. Central to this purported difference is the role of laws of nature in the explanations of these two sciences. However, I argue that, although certain important differences between physics and biology can be highlighted by differences between physical and biological explanations, these differences are not differences in the degree to which (...)
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  17. Stathos Psillos, Defending Deductive Nomology.
    In recent years philosophy of science has seen a resurgence of interest in metaphysical issues, especially those concerning laws, causation,and explanation. Although this book takes only the latter two words for its title, it is also about laws of nature. It is divided into three sections: the first is on causation, the second is on laws, and the third is on explanation: this is entirely appropriate because the debates about them are closely related. Ever since Hume argued that causation is (...)
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  18. Brendan Shea (2013). Two Concepts of Law of Nature. Prolegomena 12 (2):413-442.
    I argue that there are at least two concepts of law of nature worthy of philosophical interest: strong law and weak law. Strong laws are the laws investigated by fundamental physics, while weak laws feature prominently in the “special sciences” and in a variety of non-scientific contexts. In the first section, I clarify my methodology, which has to do with arguing about concepts. In the next section, I offer a detailed description of strong laws, which I claim satisfy four criteria: (...)
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  19. Darrell R. Shepard (1975). Laws of Nature and Explanation. Teaching Philosophy 1 (2):182-183.
  20. Brian Skyrms (1966). Nomological Necessity and the Paradoxes of Confirmation. Philosophy of Science 33 (3):230-249.
    Some of the concerns which motivate attempts to provide a philosophical reduction of nomological necessity are briefly introduced in I. In II, Hempel's treatment of the paradoxes is contrasted with a position which holds that nomological necessity is a pragmatic dimension of laws of nature, and that this pragmatic dimension is of such a type that it prevents laws of nature from contraposing. Such a position is, however, untenable unless (i) the sense of 'pragmatics' at issue is specified, and the (...)
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  21. Michael Strevens (2012). The Explanatory Role of Irreducible Properties. Noûs 46 (4):754-780.
    I aim to reconcile two apparently conflicting theses: (a) Everything that can be explained, can be explained in purely physical terms, that is, using the machinery of fundamental physics, and (b) some properties that play an explanatory role in the higher level sciences are irreducible in the strong sense that they are physically undefinable: their nature cannot be described using the vocabulary of physics. I investigate the contribution that physically undefinable properties typically make to explanations in the high-level sciences, and (...)
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  22. Michael Strevens (2008). Depth: An Account of Scientific Explanation. Harvard University Press.
    Approaches to explanation -- Causal and explanatory relevance -- The kairetic account of /D making -- The kairetic account of explanation -- Extending the kairetic account -- Event explanation and causal claims -- Regularity explanation -- Abstraction in regularity explanation -- Approaches to probabilistic explanation -- Kairetic explanation of frequencies -- Kairetic explanation of single outcomes -- Looking outward -- Looking inward.
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  23. Richard Swinburne (1990). The Limits of Explanation. Philosophy 27 (Supplement):177 - 193.
    Scientific explanation in terms of laws and initial conditions (or better, in terms of objects with powers and liabilities) is contrasted with personal explanation in terms of agents with powers and purposes. In each case the factors involved in explanation may themselves be explained, and infinite regress of explanation is logically possible. There can be no absolute explanation of phenomena, which is explanation in terms of the logically necessary; but there can be ultimate explanation which is explanation in terms of (...)
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  24. Brad Weslake, The Problem of Disjunctive Explanations.
    I present a problem for theories of explanation, concerning explanations involving disjunctive properties. The problem is particular acute for the explanatory non-fundamentalist, according to whom non-fundamental scientific explanations are sometimes superior to fundamental physical explanations. I criticise solutions to the problem due to Woodward, Strevens and Sober, and Lewis, and then defend a solution inspired by an account of non-fundamental laws recently defended by Callender and Cohen.
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  25. Jim Woodward (2001). Law and Explanation in Biology: Invariance is the Kind of Stability That Matters. Philosophy of Science 68 (1):1-20.
    This paper develops an account of explanation in biology which does not involve appeal to laws of nature, at least as traditionally conceived. Explanatory generalizations in biology must satisfy a requirement that I call invariance, but need not satisfy most of the other standard criteria for lawfulness. Once this point is recognized, there is little motivation for regarding such generalizations as laws of nature. Some of the differences between invariance and the related notions of stability and resiliency, due respectively to (...)
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  1. Gregor Betz (2013). Justifying Inference to the Best Explanation as a Practical Meta-Syllogism on Dialectical Structures. Synthese 190 (16):3553-3578.
    This article discusses how inference to the best explanation (IBE) can be justified as a practical meta-argument. It is, firstly, justified as a practical argument insofar as accepting the best explanation as true can be shown to further a specific aim. And because this aim is a discursive one which proponents can rationally pursue in—and relative to—a complex controversy, namely maximising the robustness of one’s position, IBE can be conceived, secondly, as a meta-argument. My analysis thus bears a certain analogy (...)
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  2. Robert William Fischer (2013). Why It Doesn't Matter Whether the Virtues Are Truth-Conducive. Synthese 191 (6):1-15.
    A potential explanation of a fact is a hypothesis such that, if it were true, it would explain the fact in question. Let’s suppose that we become aware of a fact and some potential explanations thereof. Let’s also suppose that we would like to believe the truth. Given this aim, we can ask two questions. First, is it likely that one of these hypotheses is true? Second, given an affirmative answer to the first question, which one is it likely to (...)
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  3. Harmon R. Holcomb (1996). Just so Stories and Inference to the Best Explanation in Evolutionary Psychology. Minds and Machines 6 (4):525-540.
    Evolutionary psychology is a science in the making, working toward the goal of showing how psychological adaptation underlies much human behavior. The knee-jerk reaction that sociobiology is unscientific because it tells just-so stories has become a common charge against evolutionary psychology as well. My main positive thesis is that inference to the best explanation is a proper method for evolutionary analyses, and it supplies a new perspective on the issues raised in Schlinger's (1996) just-so story critique. My main negative thesis (...)
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  4. Valeriano Iranzo (2001). Bad Lots, Good Explanations (Malos lotes, buenas explicaciones). Critica 33 (98):71 - 96.
    Van Fraassen's argument from the "bad lot" challenges realist interpretations of inference to the best explanation (IBE). In this paper I begin by discussing the replies suggested by S. Psillos and P. Lipton. I do not find them convincing. However, I think that van Fraassen's argument is flawed. First of all, it is a non sequitur. Secondly, I think that the real target for the scientific realist is the underlying assumption that epistemic justification results from a comparative assessment among rival (...)
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  5. Scott A. Kleiner (1983). A New Look at Kepler and Abductive Argument. Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part A 14 (4):279-313.
  6. D. Kolak & J. Symons (eds.) (2004). Quantifiers, Questions and Quantum Physics. Springer.
    This volume gathers together essays from some of Hintikka’s colleagues and former students exploring his influence on their work and pursuing some of the insights that we have found in his work. This book includes a comprehensive overview of Hintikka’s philosophy by Dan Kolak and John Symons and an annotated bibliography of Hintikka’s work. Table of Contents: Foreword; Daniel Kolak and John Symons. Hintikka on Epistemological Axiomatizations; Vincent F. Hendricks. Hintikka on the Problem with the Problem of Transworld Identity; Troy (...)
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  7. John-Michael Kuczynski (1999). Is Mind an Emergent Property? Cogito 13 (2):117-119.
    It is often said that (M) "mind is an emergent property of matter." M is ambiguous, the reason being that, for all x and y, "x is an emergent property of y" has two distinct and mutually opposed meanings, namely: (i) x is a product of y (in the sense in which a chair is the product of the activity of a furniture-maker); and (ii) y is either identical or constitutive of x, but, relative to the information available at a (...)
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  8. James Ladyman, Igor Douven, Leon Horsten & Bas van Fraassen (1997). A Defence of Van Fraassen's Critique of Abductive Inference: Reply to Psillos. Philosophical Quarterly 47 (188):305 - 321.
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