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General Philosophy of Science

Edited by Howard Sankey (University of Melbourne)
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  1. added 2016-07-28
    Alexander Reutlinger, Dominik Hangleiter & Stephan Hartmann (forthcoming). Understanding (With) Toy Models. British Journal for the Philosophy of Science.
    Toy models are highly idealized and extremely simple models. Although they are omnipresent across scientific disciplines, toy models are a surprisingly under-appreciated subject in the philosophy of science. The main philosophical puzzle regarding toy models is that it is an unsettled question what the epistemic goal of toy modeling is. One promising proposal for answering this question is the claim that the epistemic goal of toy models is to provide individual scientists with understanding. The aim of this paper is to (...)
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  2. added 2016-07-25
    Aldo Filomeno (forthcoming). Fundamentality, Effectiveness and Objectivity of Gauge Symmetries. International Studies in the Philosophy of Science.
    Much recent philosophy of physics has investigated the process of symmetry breaking. Here, I critically assess the alleged symmetry restoration at the fundamental scale. I draw attention to the contingency that gauge symmetries exhibit, i.e. the fact that they have been chosen from among a countably infinite space of possibilities. I appeal to this feature of group theory to argue that any metaphysical account of fundamental laws that expects symmetry restoration up to the fundamental level is not fully satisfactory. This (...)
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  3. added 2016-07-25
    John-Michael Kuczynski (2016). Empiricism and Rationalism. Amazon Digital Services LLC.
    Empiricism is the doctrine that all knowledge has a strictly observational basis. Rationalism is the doctrine that least some knowledge has non-observational, purely conceptual basis. In the present work, empiricism is carefully considered and found to have four dire shortcomings: -/- (1) Empiricism cannot account for our knowledge of what doesn't exist, let alone what cannot exist. -/- (2) Empiricism cannot account for our knowledge of dependence-relations, given (1), coupled with the fact that 'P depends on Q' is equivalent with (...)
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  4. added 2016-07-25
    Federico Laudisa (2015). Laws Are Not Descriptions. International Studies in the Philosophy of Science 29 (3):251-270.
    The view that takes laws of nature to be essentially nothing more than descriptions of facts is still rather popular. The present article, on the contrary, defends the claim that the only real motivation for defending a descriptive view of laws—the quest for ontological parsimony—entails too high a price to pay in philosophical terms. It is argued that nomic primitivism, namely the alternative option that takes laws to be primitive fundamental entities in our ontology, is decisively more appealing, since it (...)
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  5. added 2016-07-25
    Marc Lange (2007). Laws and Meta-Laws of Nature. The Harvard Review of Philosophy 15 (1):21-36.
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  6. added 2016-07-25
    John W. Carroll (1994). Laws of Nature. Cambridge University Press.
    John Carroll undertakes a careful philosophical examination of laws of nature, causation, and other related topics. He argues that laws of nature are not susceptible to the sort of philosophical treatment preferred by empiricists. Indeed he shows that empirically pure matters of fact need not even determine what the laws are. Similar, even stronger, conclusions are drawn about causation. Replacing the traditional view of laws and causation requiring some kind of foundational legitimacy, the author argues that these phenomena are inextricably (...)
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  7. added 2016-07-25
    Noel Roberts (1974). Chance and the Laws of Nature. New Blackfriars 55 (653):461-469.
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  8. added 2016-07-21
    Jacob Stegenga (2011). Henk W. De Regt, Sabina Leonelli and Kai Eigner , Scientific Understanding: Philosophical Perspectives. Pittsburgh: University of Pittsburgh Press, 2009. Pp. Ix+352. ISBN 978-0-8229-4378-6. $65.00. [REVIEW] British Journal for the History of Science 44 (4):578-580.
  9. added 2016-07-21
    Jacob Stegenga (2010). Francesca Bordogna, William James at the Boundaries: Philosophy, Science, and the Geography of Knowledge. Chicago and London: University of Chicago Press. 2008. Pp. X+382. ISBN 978-0-226-06652-3. £23.00. [REVIEW] British Journal for the History of Science 43 (1):130.
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  10. added 2016-07-21
    Jacob Stegenga (2009). Jessica Riskin , Genesis Redux: Essays in the History and Philosophy of Artificial Life. Chicago and London: University of Chicago Press, 2007. Pp. Xvii+389. ISBN 978-0-226-72081-4. £16.00, $25.00. [REVIEW] British Journal for the History of Science 42 (3):437.
  11. added 2016-07-21
    Jacob Stegenga (2009). Angela N. H. Creager, Elizabeth Lunbeck and M. Norton Wise , Science Without Laws: Model Systems, Cases, Exemplary Narratives. Durham, NC and London: Duke University Press, 2007. ISBN 978-0-8223-4068-3. £12.99. [REVIEW] British Journal for the History of Science 42 (4):626.
  12. added 2016-07-20
    Alexander Reutlinger (forthcoming). Does the Counterfactual Theory of Explanation Apply to Non-Causal Explanations in Metaphysics? European Journal for Philosophy of Science.
    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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  13. added 2016-07-20
    Pierre-Yves Rochefort, Réalisme scientifique. L'Encyclopédie Philosophique.
    L’attitude réaliste constitue de prime abord la posture du sens commun vis-à-vis de la science. Elle consiste à attribuer à la science l’objectif de décrire littéralement la réalité tout en lui reconnaissant la capacité, en vertu de ses méthodes, d’atteindre ce but. Si le réalisme scientifique apparait comme représentant le sens commun, il a dû, au courant du siècle dernier, s’ériger en véritable posture philosophique argumentée devant l’influence grandissante des différentes formes d’antiréalismes. Dans la mesure où la posture qu’un philosophe (...)
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  14. added 2016-07-20
    Francoise Monnoyeur (2015). What is the Value of Geometric Models to Understand Matter? Epekeina 6 (2):1-13.
    This article analyzes the value of geometric models to understand matter with the examples of the Platonic model for the primary four elements (fire, air, water, and earth) and the models of carbon atomic structures in the new science of crystallography. How the geometry of these models is built in order to discover the properties of matter is explained: movement and stability for the primary elements, and hardness, softness and elasticity for the carbon atoms. These geometric models appear to have (...)
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  15. added 2016-07-19
    Nicholas Maxwell (forthcoming). Understanding Scientific Progress: Aim-Oriented Empiricism. Paragon House.
    "Understanding Scientific Progress constitutes a potentially enormous and revolutionary advancement in philosophy of science. It deserves to be read and studied by everyone with any interest in or connection with physics or the theory of science. Maxwell cites the work of Hume, Kant, J.S. Mill, Ludwig Bolzmann, Pierre Duhem, Einstein, Henri Poincaré, C.S. Peirce, Whitehead, Russell, Carnap, A.J. Ayer, Karl Popper, Thomas Kuhn, Imre Lakatos, Paul Feyerabend, Nelson Goodman, Bas van Fraassen, and numerous others. He lauds Popper for advancing beyond (...)
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  16. added 2016-07-18
    Slobodan Perovic (2016). Optimal Research Team Composition: Data Envelopment Analysis of Fermilab Experiments. Scientometrics 108 (1).
    We employ data envelopment analysis on a series of experiments performed in Fermilab, one of the major high-energy physics laboratories in the world, in order to test their efficiency (as measured by publication and citation rates) in terms of variations of team size, number of teams per experiment, and completion time. We present the results and analyze them, focusing in particular on inherent connections between quantitative team composition and diversity, and discuss them in relation to other factors contributing to scientific (...)
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  17. added 2016-07-13
    Kevin McCain (2016). The Nature of Scientific Knowledge: An Explanatory Approach. Springer.
    This book offers a comprehensive and accessible introduction to the epistemology of science. It not only introduces readers to the general epistemological discussion of the nature of knowledge, but also provides key insights into the particular nuances of scientific knowledge. No prior knowledge of philosophy or science is assumed by The Nature of Scientific Knowledge. Nevertheless, the reader is taken on a journey through several core concepts of epistemology and philosophy of science that not only explores the characteristics of the (...)
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  18. added 2016-07-12
    Wendy S. Parker & James S. Risbey (2015). False Precision, Surprise and Improved Uncertainty Assessment. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society A 373 (2055):20140453.
    An uncertainty report describes the extent of an agent’s uncertainty about some matter. We identify two basic requirements for uncertainty reports, which we call faithfulness and completeness. We then discuss two pitfalls of uncertainty assessment that often result in reports that fail to meet these requirements. The first involves adopting a one-size-fits-all approach to the representation of uncertainty, while the second involves failing to take account of the risk of surprises. In connection with the latter, we respond to the objection (...)
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  19. added 2016-07-12
    N. Maxwell, A Priori Conjectural Knowledge in Physics.
    The history of western philosophy is split to its core by a long-standing, fundamental dispute. On the one hand there are the so-called empiricists, like Locke, Berkeley, Hume, Mill, Russell, the logical positivists, A. J. Ayer, Karl Popper and most scientists, who hold empirical considerations alone can be appealed to in justifying, or providing a rationale for, claims to factual knowledge, there being no such thing as a priori knowledge – items of factual knowledge that are accepted on grounds other (...)
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  20. added 2016-07-11
    John-Michael Kuczynski (2016). The Raven Paradox. PHILOSOPHYPEDIA.
    "All ravens are black" is logically but not confirmationally equivalent with "all non-black things are non-ravens." But this is impossible, given that logical equivalence guarantees confirmational equivalence. In this paper, this paradox is solved.
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  21. added 2016-07-09
    Santiago Ginnobili & Christián Carman (2016). Explicar y contrastar. Critica 48 (142):57-86.
    Resumen: Usualmente se ha asumido que una única distinción puede dar cuenta del rol que cumplen los conceptos en una teoría respecto de la contrastación y respecto de la explicación. Intentaremos mostrar que esta asunción es incorrecta. Por una parte, no hay razones para considerar que esta coincidencia deba darse, y por otra, como se intentará mostrar a partir de varios ejemplos, de hecho, no se da. La base de contrastación de una teoría no tiene por qué coincidir con el (...)
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  22. added 2016-07-09
    John-Michael Kuczynski (2016). Outline of a Theory of Knowledge. JOHN-MICHAEL KUCZYNSKI.
    It is made clear what discursive knowledge is and how we acquire it, and some age-old skeptical views are shown to be incoherent. It is shown that all knowledge is to some degree inferential. At the same time, it is shown that there are three quite distinct senses in which empirical knowledge can be inferential. It is proved that we have a priori knowledge, and also that knowledge of non-empirical truths is needed to acquire empirical knowledge. Finally, it is clearly (...)
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  23. added 2016-07-09
    Santiago Ginnobili (2016). Missing Concepts in Natural Selection Theory Reconstructions. History and Philosophy of the Life Sciences 38 (8):1-33.
    The concept of fitness has generated a lot of discussion in philosophy of biology. There is, however, relative agreement about the need to distinguish at least two uses of the term: ecological fitness on the one hand, and population genetics fitness on the other. The goal of this paper is to give an explication of the concept of ecological fitness by providing a reconstruction of the theory of natural selection in which this concept was framed, that is, based on the (...)
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  24. added 2016-07-08
    Gopal Sarma (2015). The Art of Memory and the Growth of the Scientific Method. Interdisciplinary Description of Complex Systems 13 (3):373-396.
  25. added 2016-07-07
    Ray Scott Percival (2006). Scientific Induction. In Anthony Grayling, Andrew Pyle & Naomi Goulder (eds.), Continuum Encyclopaedia of British Philosophy. Thoemmes 1619-1622.
    A brief introduction to the debate about scientific induction.
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  26. added 2016-07-07
    Ray Scott Percival (1999). Review of A House Built on Sand. [REVIEW] Science Spectra.
    A review of a collection of arguments against relativism in the social sciences.
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  27. added 2016-07-06
    Damian Islas (2016). La distinción metodológica entre el lenguaje teórico y el lenguaje observacional: un análisis epistemológico. Andamios. Revista de Investigación Social 2016 (31).
    En este texto analizo los principales argumentos y contraargumentos realistas y anti-realistas que se han construido a favor y en contra de la capacidad científica para producir conocimiento objetivo y verdadero del mundo social y natural. Argumento que el lenguaje teórico y el lenguaje observacional con el que los científicos sociales y naturales se refieren a las diversas entidades, fenómenos, propiedades y procesos científicos observables e inobservables están determinados, en la práctica, por sus tradiciones teóricas de investigación; lo que muestra (...)
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  28. added 2016-07-04
    Seungbae Park (forthcoming). The Uniformity Principle Vs. The Disuniformity Principle. Acta Analytica:1-10.
    The pessimistic induction is built upon the uniformity principle that the future resembles the past. In daily scientific activities, however, scientists sometimes rely on what I call the disuniformity principle that the future differs from the past. They do not give up their research projects despite the repeated failures. They believe that they will succeed although they failed repeatedly, and as a result they achieve what they intended to achieve. Given that the disuniformity principle is useful in certain cases in (...)
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  29. added 2016-07-04
    Martin Vezer (2016). Computer Models and the Evidence of Anthropogenic Climate Change: An Epistemology of Variety-of-Evidence Inferences and Robustness Analysis. Computer Models and the Evidence of Anthropogenic Climate Change: An Epistemology of Variety-of-Evidence Inferences and Robustness Analysis MA Vezér Studies in History and Philosophy of Science 56:95-102.
    To study climate change, scientists employ computer models, which approximate target systems with various levels of skill. Given the imperfection of climate models, how do scientists use simulations to generate knowledge about the causes of observed climate change? Addressing a similar question in the context of biological modelling, Levins (1966) proposed an account grounded in robustness analysis. Recent philosophical discussions dispute the confirmatory power of robustness, raising the question of how the results of computer modelling studies contribute to the body (...)
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  30. added 2016-07-04
    Sietske Fransen (2015). Ute Frietsch.Häresie und Wissenschaft: Eine Genealogie der paracelsischen Alchemie. 474 pp., illus., tables, bibl., index. Munich: Wilhelm Fink, 2013. €49.90. [REVIEW] Isis 106 (3):699-700.
  31. added 2016-07-01
    Ian James Kidd (forthcoming). Was Feyerabend A Postmodernist? International Studies in the Philosophy of Science.
  32. added 2016-07-01
    Yusuke Kaneko (2016). The History of Biology and its Importance for Gender Studies. GÉNEROS –Multidisciplinary Journal of Gender Studies 5 (2).
    The aim of this paper is to call the attention, especially that of feminists, to the current progress in biology. It appears gender studies still confine themselves to outdated ideas of sex chromosomes like XX, XY (§10). However, science has been making progress. It no longer sticks to such matters as XX, XY. Its interest is now in Sry, a kind of gene (§11), and MIS, a kind of sex hormone (§14). Abnormalities of sex chromosomes are no longer evidence to (...)
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  33. added 2016-06-30
    Fiora Salis (forthcoming). The Nature of Model-World Comparisons. The Monist.
    Upholders of fictionalism about scientific models have not yet successfully explained how scientists can learn about the real world by making comparisons between models and the real phenomena they stand for. In this paper I develop an account of model-world comparisons in terms of what I take to be the best antirealist analyses of comparative claims that emerge from the current debate on fiction.
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  34. added 2016-06-29
    Adam_Morton (forthcoming). Review of Franklin *What Makes a Good Experiment?*. [REVIEW] Metascience 102.
    I praise Franklin's full descriptions of important and exemplary experiments, and wish that he had said more about why they are exemplary.
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  35. added 2016-06-24
    Michael Baumgartner & Lorenzo Casini (forthcoming). An Abductive Theory of Constitution. Philosophy of Science.
    The first part of this paper finds Craver’s (2007) mutual manipulability theory (MM) of constitution inadequate, as it definitionally ties constitution to the feasibility of idealized experiments, which, however, are unrealizable in principle. As an alternative, the second part develops an abductive theory of constitution (NDC), which exploits the fact that phenomena and their constituents are unbreakably coupled via common causes. The best explanation for this common-cause coupling is the existence of an additional dependence relation, viz. constitution. Apart from adequately (...)
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  36. added 2016-06-24
    D. M. Armstrong (2016). What is a Law of Nature? Cambridge University Press.
    First published in 1985, D. M. Armstrong's original work on what laws of nature are has continued to be influential in the areas of metaphysics and philosophy of science. Presenting a definitive attack on the sceptical Humean view, that laws are no more than a regularity of coincidence between stances of properties, Armstrong establishes his own theory and defends it concisely and systematically against objections. Presented in a fresh twenty-first-century series livery, and including a specially commissioned preface written by Marc (...)
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  37. added 2016-06-21
    Stephen Biggs & Jessica Wilson (2016). The a Priority of Abduction. Philosophical Studies:1-24.
    Here we challenge the orthodoxy according to which abduction is an a posteriori mode of inference. We start by providing a case study illustrating how abduction can justify a philosophical claim not justifiable by empirical evidence alone. While many grant abduction's epistemic value, nearly all assume that abductive justification is a posteriori, on grounds that our belief in abduction's epistemic value depends on empirical evidence about how the world contingently is. Contra this assumption, we argue, first, that our belief in (...)
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  38. added 2016-06-20
    Paul Teller, Role-Player Realism.
    In practice theoretical terms are open-ended in not being attached to anything completely specific. This raises a problem for scientific realism: If there is no one completely specific kind of thing that might be in the extension of “atom”, what is it to claim that atoms exist? A realist’s solution is to say that in theoretical contexts of mature atom-theories there are things that play the role of atoms as characterized in that theory-context. The paper closes with a laundry list (...)
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  39. added 2016-06-19
    Michael McEachrane (2009). Emotion, Meaning, and Appraisal Theory. Theory and Psychology 19 (1):33-53.
    According to psychological emotion theories referred to as appraisal theory, emotions are caused by appraisals (evaluative judgments). Borrowing a term from Jan Smedslund, it is the contention of this article that psychological appraisal theory is “pseudoempirical” (i.e., misleadingly or incorrectly empirical). In the article I outline what makes some scientific psychology “pseudoempirical,” distinguish my view on this from Jan Smedslund’s, and then go on to show why paying heed to the ordinary meanings of emotion terms is relevant to psychology, and (...)
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  40. added 2016-06-19
    Ray Scott Percival (1999). Appeal to the Court of Experience. [REVIEW] Times Higher Education.
    Geoffrey Stokes's introduction to Karl Popper's work portrays it as an evolving system of ideas and aims to explore the little-understood intricate logical relationships between Popper's work on scientific method and his philosophy of politics. It is one of the few books to cover the debate between Popper and the Frankfurt School. Characteristic of many of Stokes's "criticisms" is that they are presented as Popper "admitting" or "granting" them - as if Popper was not the one who originally raised and (...)
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  41. added 2016-06-18
    Paul Teller, Pan-Perspectival Realism Explained and Defended.
    Conventional scientific realism is just the doctrine that our theoretical terms refer. Conventional antirealism denies, for various reasons, theoretical reference and takes theory to give us only information about the word of the perceptual where reference, it would appear, is secure. But reference fails for the perceptual every bit as much for the perceptual as for the theoretical, and for the same reason: the world is too complicated for us to succeed in attaching specific referents to our terms. That would (...)
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  42. added 2016-06-17
    Ruth Hibbert (forthcoming). LIS and BCIs: A Local, Pluralist, and Pragmatist Approach to 4E Cognition. Neuroethics:1-12.
    Four previous papers in this journal have discussed the role of Brain-Computer Interfaces in the lives of Locked-In Syndrome patients in terms of the four “E” frameworks for cognition – extended, embedded, embodied, and enactive cognition. This paper argues that in the light of more recent literature on these 4E frameworks, none of the four papers has taken quite the right approach to deciding which, if any, of the E frameworks is the best one for the job. More specifically, I (...)
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  43. added 2016-06-16
    Ben Blumson, Distance and Dissimilarity.
    This paper considers whether an analogy between distance and dissimilarlity supports the thesis that degree of dissimilarity is distance in a metric space. A straightforward way to justify the thesis would be to define degree of dissimilarity as a function of number of properties in common and not in common. But, infamously, this approach has problems with infinity. An alternative approach would be to prove representation and uniqueness theorems, according to which if comparative dissimilarity meets certain qualitative conditions, then it (...)
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  44. added 2016-06-14
    Wolfgang Freitag (2016). The Disjunctive Riddle and the Grue‐Paradox. Dialectica 70 (2):185-200.
    The paper explores the disjunctive riddle for induction: If we know the sample Ks to be P, we also know that they are P or F. Assuming that we also know that the future Ks are non-P, we can conclude that they are F, if only we can inductively infer the evidentially supported P-or-F hypothesis. Yet this is absurd. We cannot predict that future Ks are F based on the knowledge that the samples, and only they, are P. The ensuing (...)
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  45. added 2016-06-12
    James Hutton (1794). Investigation of the Principles of Knowledge. A. Strahan, and T. Cadell.
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  46. added 2016-06-10
    Marcin Miłkowski (2016). A Mechanistic Account of Computational Explanation in Cognitive Science and Computational Neuroscience. In Vincent C. Müller (ed.), Computing and Philosophy. Springer 191-205.
    Explanations in cognitive science and computational neuroscience rely predominantly on computational modeling. Although the scientific practice is systematic, and there is little doubt about the empirical value of numerous models, the methodological account of computational explanation is not up-to-date. The current chapter offers a systematic account of computational explanation in cognitive science and computational neuroscience within a mechanistic framework. The account is illustrated with a short case study of modeling of the mirror neuron system in terms of predictive coding.
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  47. added 2016-06-10
    Marcin Miłkowski (2016). Computation and Multiple Realizability. In V. C. Mueller (ed.), Fundamental Issues of Artificial Intelligence. Springer 29-41.
    Multiple realizability (MR) is traditionally conceived of as the feature of computational systems, and has been used to argue for irreducibility of higher-level theories. I will show that there are several ways a computational system may be seen to display MR. These ways correspond to (at least) five ways one can conceive of the function of the physical computational system. However, they do not match common intuitions about MR. I show that MR is deeply interest-related, and for this reason, difficult (...)
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  48. added 2016-06-09
    Ingo Brigandt, Sara Green & Maureen A. O'Malley (forthcoming). Systems Biology and Mechanistic Explanation. In Stuart Glennan & Phyllis Illari (eds.), The Routledge Handbook of Mechanisms and Mechanical Philosophy.
    We address the question of whether and to what extent explanatory and modelling strategies in systems biology are mechanistic. After showing how dynamic mathematical models are actually required for mechanistic explanations of complex systems, we caution readers against expecting all systems biology to be about mechanistic explanations. Instead, the aim may be to generate topological explanations that are not standardly mechanistic, or to arrive at design principles that explain system organization and behaviour in general, but not specific mechanisms. These abstraction (...)
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  49. added 2016-06-09
    Uljana Feest & Friedrich Steinle (forthcoming). Experiment. The Oxford Handbook of Philosophy of Science.
    The authors provide an overview of philosophical discussions about the roles of experiment in science. First, they cover two approaches that took shape under the heading of “new experimentalism” in the 1980s and 1990s. One approach was primarily concerned with questions about entity realism, robustness, and epistemological strategies. The other has focused on exploratory experiments and the dynamic processes of experimental research as such, highlighting its iterative nature and drawing out the ways in which such research is grounded in experimental (...)
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  50. added 2016-06-06
    Seungbae Park (2016). Extensional Scientific Realism Vs. Intensional Scientific Realism. Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part A 59:46-52.
    Extensional scientific realism is the view that each believable scientific theory is supported by the unique first-order evidence for it and that if we want to believe that it is true, we should rely on its unique first-order evidence. In contrast, intensional scientific realism is the view that all believable scientific theories have a common feature and that we should rely on it to determine whether a theory is believable or not. Fitzpatrick argues that extensional realism is immune, while intensional (...)
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