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  1. Dingmar van Eck & Erik Weber (forthcoming). Function Ascription and Explanation: Elaborating an Explanatory Utility Desideratum for Ascriptions of Technical Functions. Erkenntnis:1-23.
    Current philosophical theorizing about technical functions is mainly focused on specifying conditions under which agents are justified in ascribing functions to technical artifacts. Yet, assessing the precise explanatory relevance of such function ascriptions is, by and large, a neglected topic in the philosophy of technical artifacts and technical functions. We assess the explanatory utility of ascriptions of technical functions in the following three explanation-seeking contexts: (i) why was artifact x produced?, (ii) why does artifact x not have the expected capacity (...)
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  2. Joachim Frans & Erik Weber (2014). Mechanistic Explanation and Explanatory Proofs in Mathematics. Philosophia Mathematica 22 (2):231-248.
    Although there is a consensus among philosophers of mathematics and mathematicians that mathematical explanations exist, only a few authors have proposed accounts of explanation in mathematics. These accounts fit into the unificationist or top-down approach to explanation. We argue that these models can be complemented by a bottom-up approach to explanation in mathematics. We introduce the mechanistic model of explanation in science and discuss the possibility of using this model in mathematics, arguing that using it does not presuppose a Platonist (...)
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  3. Raoul Gervais & Erik Weber (2013). Inferential Explanations in Biology. Studies in History and Philosophy of Biological and Biomedical Sciences 44 (3):356-364.
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  4. Raoul Gervais & Erik Weber (2013). Plausibility Versus Richness in Mechanistic Models. Philosophical Psychology 26 (1):139-152.
    In this paper we argue that in recent literature on mechanistic explanations, authors tend to conflate two distinct features that mechanistic models can have or fail to have: plausibility and richness. By plausibility, we mean the probability that a model is correct in the assertions it makes regarding the parts and operations of the mechanism, i.e., that the model is correct as a description of the actual mechanism. By richness, we mean the amount of detail the model gives about the (...)
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  5. Bert Leuridan & Erik Weber (2013). Causality and Explanation in the Sciences: The Rest of the Best. [REVIEW] Erkenntnis 78 (2):147-151.
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  6. Erik Weber, Jeroen Van Bouwel & Leen De Vreese (2013). Scientific Explanation. Springer.
    When scientist investigate why things happen, they aim at giving an explanation. But what does a scientific explanation look like? In the first chapter (Theories of Scientific Explanation) of this book, the milestones in the debate on how to characterize scientific explanations are exposed. The second chapter (How to Study Scientific Explanation?) scrutinizes the working-method of three important philosophers of explanation, Carl Hempel, Philip Kitcher and Wesley Salmon and shows what went wrong. Next, it is the responsibility of current philosophers (...)
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  7. Bert Leuridan & Erik Weber (2012). Causality and Explanation in the Sciences. Theoria: Revista de Teoría, Historia y Fundamentos de la Ciencia 27 (2):133-136.
    Editors’ introduction to the special issue on the Causality and Explanation in the Sciences conference, held at the University of Ghent in September 2011.Presentación del número monográfico sobre el congreso Causality and Explanation in the Sciences, celebrado en la Universidad de Gante en septiembre de 2011.
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  8. Dunja Šešelja & Erik Weber (2012). Rationality and Irrationality in the History of Continental Drift: Was the Hypothesis of Continental Drift Worthy of Pursuit? Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part A 43 (1):147-159.
  9. Erik Weber & Leen De Vreese (2012). Causation in Perspective. Are All Causal Claims Equally Warranted? Philosophica 84.
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  10. Erik Weber, Jeroen Van Bouwel & Merel Lefevere (2012). The Role of Unification in Explanations of Facts. In Henk de Regt, Samir Okasha & Stephan Hartmann (eds.), EPSA Philosophy of Science: Amsterdam 2009. Springer.
    In the literature on scientific explanation, there is a classical distinction between explanations of facts and explanations of laws. This paper is about explanations of facts. Our aim is to analyse the role of unification in explanations of this kind. We discuss five positions with respect to this role, argue for two of them and refute the three others.
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  11. Erik Weber & Maarten Van Dyck (2012). Rationally Evaluating Inconsistent Theories. Philosophica 86.
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  12. Erik Weber, Dietlinde Wouters & Joke Meheus (2012). Introduction. Philosophica 86 (4):319-322.
    This introduction clarifies the ideas behind the Logic, Reasoning and Rationality congress from which the papers in this issue are selected. These ideas are situated in the history of 20th century philosophy (Vienna Circle, Kuhn, ...). We also give an overview of the papers in this issue.
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  13. Jeroen Van Bouwel, Erik Weber & Leen De Vreese (2011). Indispensability Arguments in Favour of Reductive Explanations. Journal for General Philosophy of Science / Zeitschrift für Allgemeine Wissenschaftstheorie 42 (1):33 - 46.
    Instances of explanatory reduction are often advocated on metaphysical grounds; given that the only real things in the world are subatomic particles and their interaction, we have to try to explain everything in terms of the laws of physics. In this paper, we show that explanatory reduction cannot be defended on metaphysical grounds. Nevertheless, indispensability arguments for reductive explanations can be developed, taking into account actual scientific practice and the role of epistemic interests. Reductive explanations might be indispensable to address (...)
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  14. Raoul Gervais & Erik Weber (2011). The Covering Law Model Applied to Dynamical Cognitive Science: A Comment on Joel Walmsley. Minds and Machines 21 (1):33-39.
    In a 2008 paper, Walmsley argued that the explanations employed in the dynamical approach to cognitive science, as exemplified by the Haken, Kelso and Bunz model of rhythmic finger movement, and the model of infant preservative reaching developed by Esther Thelen and her colleagues, conform to Carl Hempel and Paul Oppenheim’s deductive-nomological model of explanation (also known as the covering law model). Although we think Walmsley’s approach is methodologically sound in that it starts with an analysis of scientific practice rather (...)
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  15. Bert Leuridan & Erik Weber (2011). The IARC and Mechanistic Evidence. In Phyllis Illari, Federica Russo & Jon Williamson (eds.), Causality in the Sciences. Oxford University Press. 91--109.
    The International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) is an organization which seeks to identify the causes of human cancer. Per agent, such as betel quid or Human Papillomaviruses, they review the available evidence deriving from epidemiological studies, animal experiments and information about mechanisms (and other data). The evidence of the different groups is combined such that an overall assessment of the carcinogenicity of the agent in question is obtained. In this paper, we critically review the IARC’s carcinogenicity evaluations. First (...)
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  16. Jeroen van Bouwel & Erik Weber (2011). Explanation in the Social Sciences. In Ian Jarvie Jesus Zamora Bonilla (ed.), The Sage Handbook of the Philosophy of Social Sciences. Sage.
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  17. Jeroen van Bouwel, Erik Weber & Leen de Vreese (2011). Indispensability Arguments in Favour of Reductive Explanations. Journal for General Philosophy of Science 42 (1):33-46.
    Instances of explanatory reduction are often advocated on metaphysical grounds; given that the only real things in the world are subatomic particles and their interaction, we have to try to explain everything in terms of the laws of physics. In this paper, we show that explanatory reduction cannot be defended on metaphysical grounds. Nevertheless, indispensability arguments for reductive explanations can be developed, taking into account actual scientific practice and the role of epistemic interests. Reductive explanations might be indispensable to address (...)
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  18. Leen Vreese, Erik Weber & Jeroen Bouwel (2010). Explanatory Pluralism in the Medical Sciences: Theory and Practice. Theoretical Medicine and Bioethics 31 (5):371-390.
    Explanatory pluralism is the view that the best form and level of explanation depends on the kind of question one seeks to answer by the explanation, and that in order to answer all questions in the best way possible, we need more than one form and level of explanation. In the first part of this article, we argue that explanatory pluralism holds for the medical sciences, at least in theory. However, in the second part of the article we show that (...)
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  19. Erik Weber (2010). Causal Methodology. A Comment on Nancy Cartwright's Hunting Causes and Using Them. [REVIEW] Analysis 70 (2):318-325.
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  20. Jan Willem Wieland & Erik Weber (2010). Metaphysical Explanatory Asymmetries. Logique and Analyse 53 (211):345-365.
    The general view is that metaphysical explanation is asymmetric. For instance, if resemblance facts can be explained by facts about their relata, then, by the asymmetry of explanation, these latter facts cannot in turn be explained by the former. The question however is: is there any reason to hold on to the asymmetry? If so, what does it consist in? In the paper we approach these questions by comparing them to analogous questions that have been investigated for scientific explanations. Three (...)
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  21. Jan Willem Wieland & Erik Weber (2010). Metaphysical Explanatory Asymmetries. Logique Et Analyse 53 (211):345.
     
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  22. Erik Weber (2009). How Probabilistic Causation Can Account for the Use of Mechanistic Evidence. International Studies in the Philosophy of Science 23 (3):277-295.
    In a recent article in this journal, Federica Russo and Jon Williamson argue that an analysis of causality in terms of probabilistic relationships does not do justice to the use of mechanistic evidence to support causal claims. I will present Ronald Giere's theory of probabilistic causation, and show that it can account for the use of mechanistic evidence (both in the health sciences—on which Russo and Williamson focus—and elsewhere). I also review some other probabilistic theories of causation (of Suppes, Eells, (...)
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  23. Erik Weber (2009). Varieties of Democracy in Science Policy. In Jeroen Van Bouwel (ed.), The Social Sciences and Democracy. Palgrave Macmillan.
  24. Erik Weber & Leen De Vreese (2009). Conceptual Analysis of Causation and Theoretical Utility in Everyday Contexts. Logique Et Analyse 206:177-190.
    In this paper we elaborate Ned Hall's theoretical utility perspective for causation in everyday contexts. We do this by presenting some instances of it, thereby adding some flesh to the skeleton that Hall has provided. Our elaboration of the theoretical utility perspective also provides arguments for it: the instances we present show the fruitfulness of the approach. A question raised by Hall's proposal is: should we give up descriptive analysis of causation (and descriptive analysis in general) completely? We argue that, (...)
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  25. Erik Weber & Jeroen Van Bouwel (2009). Causation, Unification, and the Adequacy of Explanations of Facts. THEORIA. An International Journal for Theory, History and Foundations of Science 24 (3):301-320.
    Pluralism with respect to the structure of explanations of facts is not uncommon. Wesley Salmon, for instance, distinguished two types of explanation: causal explanations (which provide insight in the causes of the fact we want to explain) and unification explanations (which fit the explanandum into a unified world view). The pluralism which Salmon and others have defended is compatible with several positions about the exact relation between these two types of explanations. We distinguish four such positions, and argue in favour (...)
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  26. Jeroen Van Bouwel & Erik Weber (2008). De-Ontologizing the Debate on Social Explanations: A Pragmatic Approach Based on Epistemic Interests. Human Studies 31 (4):423 - 442.
    In a recent paper on realism and pragmatism published in this journal, Osmo Kivinen and Tero Piiroinen have been pleading for more methodological work in the philosophy of the social sciences—refining the conceptual tools of social scientists—and less philosophically ontological theories. Following this de-ontologizing approach, we scrutinize the debates on social explanation and contribute to the development of a pragmatic social science methodology. Analyzing four classic debates concerning explanation in the social sciences, we propose to shift the debate away from (...)
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  27. Leen De Vreese & Erik Weber (2008). Confusion and Bad Arguments in the Conceptual Analysis of Causation. Logique Et Analyse 201:81-99.
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  28. Bert Leuridan, Erik Weber & Maarten Van Dyck (2008). The Practical Value of Spurious Correlations: Selective Versus Manipulative Policy. Analysis 68 (4):298 - 303.
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  29. Bert Leuridan, Erik Weber & Maarten Van Dyck (2008). The Practical Value of Spurious Correlations: Selective Versus Manipulative Policy. Analysis 68 (300):298-303.
    In the past 25 years, many philosophers have endorsed the view that the practical value of causal knowledge lies in the fact that manipulation of causes is a good way to bring about a desired change in the effect. This view is intuitively very plausible. For instance, we can predict a storm on the basis of a barometer reading, but we cannot avoid the storm by manipulating the state of the barometer (barometer status and storm are effects of a common (...)
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  30. Jeroen van Bouwel & Erik Weber (2008). A Pragmatist Defense of Non-Relativistic Explanatory Pluralism in History and Social Science. History and Theory 47 (2):168–182.
    Explanatory pluralism has been defended by several philosophers of history and social science, recently, for example, by Tor Egil Førland in this journal. In this article, we provide a better argument for explanatory pluralism, based on the pragmatist idea of epistemic interests. Second, we show that there are three quite different senses in which one can be an explanatory pluralist: one can be a pluralist about questions, a pluralist about answers to questions, and a pluralist about both. We defend the (...)
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  31. Jeroen Van Bouwel & Erik Weber (2008). De-Ontologizing the Debate on Social Explanations: A Pragmatic Approach Based on Epistemic Interests. [REVIEW] Human Studies 31 (4):423-442.
    In a recent paper on realism and pragmatism published in this journal, Osmo Kivinen and Tero Piiroinen have been pleading for more methodological work in the philosophy of the social sciences—refining the conceptual tools of social scientists—and less philosophically ontological theories. Following this de-ontologizing approach, we scrutinize the debates on social explanation and contribute to the development of a pragmatic social science methodology. Analyzing four classic debates concerning explanation in the social sciences, we propose to shift the debate away from (...)
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  32. Erik Weber (2008). Introduction. Philosophica 82:1-3.
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  33. Erik Weber (2008). Reply to Daniel Steel's "with or Without Mechanisms". Philosophy of the Social Sciences 38 (2):267-270.
    In this discussion note I clarify the motivation behind my original paper "Social Mechanisms, Causal Inference and the Policy Relevance of Social Science." I argue that one of the tasks of philosophers of social science is to draw attention to methodological problems that are often forgotten or overlooked. Then I show that my original paper does not make the mistake or fallacy that Daniel Steel suggests in his comment on it. Key Words: social mechanisms • causal inference • social policy.
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  34. Erik Weber (2008). The Debate Between Causal Realism and Causal Constructivism: Metaphilosophical Reflections. Philosophica 81.
    In this paper I discuss, from a metaphilosophical point of view, the debate between causal realism and causal constructivism. First, I argue that the debate, if it is couched in the general terms as it is traditionally done, rests on a false dilemma. Then I argue that the debate must be disentangled into several more specific debates in order to be interesting.
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  35. Erik Weber & Bert Leuridan (2008). Counterfactual Causality, Empirical Research and the Role of Theory in the Social Sciences (Review Essay). [REVIEW] Historical Methods 41 (4):197-201.
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  36. Jan Willem Wieland, Erik Weber & Tim De Mey (2008). Introduction. Philosophica 81.
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  37. Steffen Ducheyne & Erik Weber (2007). The Concept of Causation in Newton's Mechanical and Optical Work. Logic and Logical Philosophy 16 (4):265-288.
    In this essay the authors explore the nature of efficient causal explanation in Newton’s "Principia and The Opticks". It is argued that: (1) In the dynamical explanations of the Principia, Newton treats the phenomena under study as cases of Hall’s second kind of atypical causation. The underlying concept of causation is therefore a purely interventionist one. (2) In the descriptions of his optical experiments, Newton treats the phenomena under study as cases of Hall’s typical causation. The underlying concept of causation (...)
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  38. Leon Horsten, Igor Douven & Erik Weber (2007). Wetenschapsfilosofie. Van Gorcum.
    Inleidend overzicht van thema's uit de wetenschapsfilosofie.
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  39. Erik Weber (2007). Conceptual Tools for Causal Analysis in the Social Sciences. In Federica Russo & Jon Williamson (eds.), Causality and Probability in the Sciences. 197--213.
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  40. Erik Weber (2007). Social Mechanisms, Causal Inference, and the Policy Relevance of Social Science. Philosophy of the Social Sciences 37 (3):348-359.
    The paper has two aims. First, to show that we need social mechanisms to establish the policy relevance of causal claims, even if it is possible to build a good argument for those claims without knowledge of mechanisms. Second, to show that although social scientists can, in principle, do without social mechanisms when they argue for causal claims, in reality scientific practice contexts where they do not need mechanisms are very rare. Key Words: social mechanisms • causal inference • social (...)
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  41. Erik Weber & Jeroen Van Bouwel (2007). Assessing the Explanatory Power of Causal Explanations. In Johannes Persson & Petri Ylikoski (eds.), Rethinking Explanation. Springer.
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  42. Erik Weber (2006). Are There Ontological Explanations? Poznan Studies in the Philosophy of the Sciences and the Humanities 91 (1):277-283.
    There is a huge philosophical literature on scientific explanation, and no one seriously denies that the sciences explain in one way or another. But what about ontology? I will argue that ontological laws and ontological theories can explain. And I will point at the differences between ontological explanations and their scientific counterparts.
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  43. Leen De Vreese & Erik Weber (2005). The Causes and Cures of Scurvy. How Modern Was James Lind's Methodology? Logic and Logical Philosophy 14 (1):55-67.
    The Scottish physician James Lind is the most celebrated name in the history of research into the causes and cures of scurvy. This is due to the famous experiment he conducted in 1747 on H.M.S. Salisbury in order to compare the efficiency of six popular treatments for scurvy. This experiment is generally regarded as the first controlled trial in clinical science (see e.g. Carpenter 1986, p. 52).
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  44. Erik Weber (2005). Kennis Ontrafeld: Vijftien Hedendaagse Filosofen Over Wetenschap, Ethiek En Metafysica. Garant.
    Inleidend overzicht van het wetenschapsfilosofische denken van vijftien hedendaagse filosofen.
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  45. Erik Weber (2005). Patterns of Scientific Reasoning: An Introduction. Logic and Logical Philosophy 14 (1):3-5.
    From December 2001 till December 2004, the Science, Innovation and Media Department of the Ministry of the Flemish Community (Belgium) and the State Committee for Scientific Research of the Republic of Poland funded a cooperation project (Bilateral Scientific and Technological Cooperation Project BIL01/80) between two Flemish and two Polish research centres. The Flemish partners were the Centre for Logic and Philosophy of Science of Ghent University and the centre with the same name of the Free University of Brussels. The Polish (...)
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  46. Erik Weber (2005). Petri Ylikoski is a Fellow at Helsinki Collegium for Advanced Studies. His Main Research Interests Are Philosophy of the Social Sciences and Social Studies of Science. Rebecca Schweder is Researcher in Theoretical Philosophy at Lund University. She Works on Issues of Philosophical Logic and Science. [REVIEW] Foundations of Science 10:455-456.
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  47. Erik Weber & Helena De Preester (2005). Micro-Explanations of Laws. Poznan Studies in the Philosophy of the Sciences and the Humanities 84 (1):177-186.
    After a brief introduction to Kuipers' views on explanations of laws we argue that micro-explanations of laws can have two formats: they work either by aggregation and transformation (as Kuipers suggests) or by means of function ascriptions (Kuipers neglects this possibility). We compare both types from an epistemic point of view (which information is needed to construct the explanation?) and from a means-end perspective (do both types serve the same purposes? are they equally good?).
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  48. Erik Weber & Jeroen Van Bouwel (2005). Coping with Inconsistencies: Examples Form the Social Sciences. Logic and Logical Philosophy 14 (1):89-101.
    In this paper we present two case studies on inconsistencies in the social sciences. The first is devoted to sociologist George Caspar Homans and his exchange theory. We argue that his account of how he arrived at his theory is highly misleading, because it ignores the inconsistencies he had to cope with. In the second case study we analyse how John Maynard Keynes coped with the inconsistency between classical economic theory and real economic conditions in developing his path-breaking theory.
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  49. Erik Weber, Jeroen Van Bouwel & Robrecht Vanderbeeken (2005). Forms of Causal Explanation. Foundations of Science 10 (4):437-454.
    In the literature on scientific explanation two types of pluralism are very common. The first concerns the distinction between explanations of singular facts and explanations of laws: there is a consensus that they have a different structure. The second concerns the distinction between causal explanations and uni.cation explanations: most people agree that both are useful and that their structure is different. In this article we argue for pluralism within the area of causal explanations: we claim that the structure of a (...)
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  50. Erik Weber & Robrecht Vanderbeeken (2005). The Functions of Intentional Explanations of Actions. Behavior and Philosophy 33 (1):1 - 16.
    This paper deals with the "functions of intentional explanations" of actions (IEAs), i.e., explanations that refer to intentional states (beliefs, desires, etc.) of the agent. IEAs can have different formats. We consider these different formats to be instruments that enable the explainer to capture different kinds of information. We pick out two specific formats, i.e. "contrastive" and "descriptive", which will enable us to discuss the functions of IEAs. In many cases the explanation is contrastive, i.e. it makes use of one (...)
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