This paper is concerned with a quality space model as an account of the intelligibility of explanation. I argue that descriptions of causal or functional roles (Chalmers Levine, 2001) are not the only basis for intelligible explanations. If we accept that phenomenal concepts refer directly, not via descriptions of causal or functional roles, then it is difficult to find role fillers for the described causal roles. This constitutes a vagueness constraint on the intelligibility of explanation. Thus, I (...) propose to use quality space models to develop a systematic way of studying different modalities of perception and feelings, e.g., visual and auditory perception, pain, and emotion, that can reveal some structural relations among these modalities. It might turn out that topological explanation can be more intelligible than causal explanation in this case. I discuss two accounts of a quality space for color vision (Clark, 2000; Rosenthal, 2010) and propose how to construct a quality space for pain. Daniel Kostic is Associated Researcher at Berlin School of Mind and Brain. (shrink)
Throughout the history of the Western world, science has possessed an extraordinary amount of authority and prestige. And while its pedestal has been jostled by numerous evolutions and revolutions, science has always managed to maintain its stronghold as the knowing enterprise that explains how the natural world works: we treat such legendary scientists as Galileo, Newton, Darwin, and Einstein with admiration and reverence because they offer profound and sustaining insight into the meaning of the universe. In The Intelligibility of (...) Nature , Peter Dear considers how science as such has evolved and how it has marshaled itself to make sense of the world. His intellectual journey begins with a crucial observation: that the enterprise of science is, and has been, directed toward two distinct but frequently conflated ends—doing and knowing. The ancient Greeks developed this distinction of value between craft on the one hand and understanding on the other, and according to Dear, that distinction has survived to shape attitudes toward science ever since. Teasing out this tension between doing and knowing during key episodes in the history of science—mechanical philosophy and Newtonian gravitation, elective affinities and the chemical revolution, enlightened natural history and taxonomy, evolutionary biology, the dynamical theory of electromagnetism, and quantum theory—Dear reveals how the two principles became formalized into a single enterprise, science, that would be carried out by a new kind of person, the scientist. Finely nuanced and elegantly conceived, The Intelligibility of Nature will be essential reading for aficionados and historians of science alike. (shrink)
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 events intelligible and whether or not accuracy is also viewed as a requirement. (shrink)
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 of one of them. We also compare our results with the views of some authors who have recently written on this subject. (shrink)
Recently, Estes and Arnold claimed to have “solved” the paradox of evolutionary stasis; they claim that stabilizing selection, and only stabilizing selection, can explain the patterns of evolutionary divergence observed over “all timescales.” While Estes and Arnold clearly think that they have identified the processes that produce evolutionary stasis, they have not. Instead, Estes and Arnold identify a particular evolutionary pattern but not the processes that produce that pattern. This mistake is important; the slippage between pattern and process is common (...) in population and quantitative genetics and contributes to a persistent misunderstanding of the nature of explanations in evolutionary biology. †To contact the author, please write to: Philosophy Department, 208 Hovland Hall, Oregon State University, Corvallis, OR 97331‐3902; e‐mail: email@example.com. (shrink)
This paper argues that spacetime visualisability is not a necessary condition for the intelligibility of theories in physics. Visualisation can be an important tool for rendering a theory intelligible, but it is by no means a sine qua non. The paper examines the historical transition from classical to quantum physics, and analyses the role of visualisability (Anschaulichkeit) and its relation to intelligibility. On the basis of this historical analysis, an alternative conception of the intelligibility of scientific theories (...) is proposed, based on Heisenberg's reinterpretation of the notion of Anschaulichkeit. (shrink)
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 some epistemic interest answering a specific explanation-seeking question in the most accurate, adequate and efficient way. Just like explanatory pluralists often advocate the indispensability of higher levels of explanation pointing at the pragmatic value of the explanatory information obtained on these higher levels, we argue that explanatory reduction—traditionally understood as the contender of pluralism—can be defended in a similar way. The pragmatic value reductionist, lower level explanations might have in the biomedical sciences and the social sciences is illustrated by some case studies. (shrink)
Among the many tensions in Leibniz’s philosophical system is his tendency to invoke both mechanistic and teleological explanations. Jonathan Bennett, typicalof recent Leibniz commentators, attempts to relieve this difficulty by arguing that teleology for Leibniz is theological posturing and philosophically thin; such a doctrine does not serve to explain the relationship between teleology and mechanism. I argue that Leibniz’s appeal to final causality is both inextricably grounded in his wider metaphysic and helpful in understanding the preconditions for causality in (...) general. To this end I defend the two following claims: 1) It is in part Leibniz’s theory of contingency, and not exclusively theological concerns, that leads him to conclude that the laws of nature must admit of teleological explanations. 2) The finality of the laws of nature, coupled with one of Leibniz’s most promising arguments against occasionalism, are together sufficient to show that teleology must play a role in explanations of the activity of all genuine substances. (shrink)
The intelligibility of change in Descartes Content Type Journal Article DOI 10.1007/s11016-010-9494-0 Authors Michael Della Rocca, Department of Philosophy, Yale University, P.O. Box 208306, New Haven, CT 06520-8306, USA Journal Metascience Online ISSN 1467-9981 Print ISSN 0815-0796.
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 of one of them. We also compare our results with the views of some authors who have recently written on this subject. (shrink)
I show how archaeologists have two problems. The construction of scenarios accounting for the raw data of Archaeology, the material remains of the past, and the explanation of pre-history. Within Archaeology, there has been an ongoing debate about how to constrain speculation within both of these archaeological projects, and archaeologists have consistently looked to biological mechanisms for constraints. I demonstrate the problems of using biology, either as an analogy for cultural processes or through direct application of biological principles to material (...) remains. This is done through setting out the requirements of a Darwinian Archaeology, and then measuring various approaches against these requirements. This approach leads to the conclusion that archaeologist's explanations of the past must include within their formulations an account of human cognitive capacities within their explanatory framework. The limits of our understanding of the human past will be the limits of our understanding of Homo sapiens. (shrink)
Complete determinism is, as Karl Popper said, “a daydream of omniscience.” Determinism is usually conceived as linked with a particular science whose explanations are deemed fundamental. As Rose rightly points out, biological enquiry includes many different kinds of question. Genetic determinism, making genes central to biology, is therefore biased and misguided. The crucial unit must be the whole organism. Correspondence:c1 IA Collingwood Terrace, Newcastle on Tyne NE2 2JP, United Kingdom firstname.lastname@example.org.
Matthen (Philos Sci 76(4):464–487, 2009) argues that explanations of evolutionary change that appeal to natural selection are statistically abstractive explanations, explanations that ignore some possible explanatory partitions that in fact impact the outcome. This recognition highlights a difficulty with making selective analyses fully rigorous. Natural selection is not about the details of what happens to any particular organism, nor, by extension, to the details of what happens in any particular population. Since selective accounts focus on tendencies, those (...) factors that impact the actual outcomes but do not impact the tendencies must be excluded. So, in order to properly exclude the factors irrelevant to selection, the relevant factors must be identified, and physical processes, environments, and populations individuated on the basis of being relevantly similar for the purposes of selective accounts. Natural selection, on this view, becomes in part a measure of the robustness of particular kinds of outcomes given variations over some kinds of inputs. (shrink)
Developments in the field of neuroscience, according to its proponents, offer the prospect of an enhanced understanding and treatment of addicted persons. Consequently, its advocates consider that improving public understanding of addiction neuroscience is a desirable aim. Those critical of neuroscientific approaches, however, charge that it is a totalising, reductive perspective–one that ignores other known causes in favour of neurobiological explanations. Sociologist Nikolas Rose has argued that neuroscience, and its associated technologies, are coming to dominate cultural models to the (...) extent that 'we' increasingly understand ourselves as 'neurochemical selves'. Drawing on 55 qualitative interviews conducted with members of the Australian public residing in the Greater Brisbane area, we challenge both the 'expectational discourses' of neuroscientists and the criticisms of its detractors. Members of the public accepted multiple perspectives on the causes of addiction, including some elements of neurobiological explanations. Their discussions of addiction drew upon a broad range of philosophical, sociological, anthropological, psychological and neurobiological vocabularies, suggesting that they synthesised newer technical understandings, such as that offered by neuroscience, with older ones. Holding conceptual models that acknowledge the complexity of addiction aetiology into which new information is incorporated suggests that the impact of neuroscientific discourse in directing the public's beliefs about addiction is likely to be more limited than proponents or opponents of neuroscience expect. (shrink)
Critics of the erotetic model of explanation question its ability to discriminate significant from spurious explanations. One response to these criticisms has been to impose contextual restrictions on a case-by-case basis. In this article, the author argues that these approaches have overestimated the role of interests at the expense of other contextual aspects characteristic of social-scientific explanation. For this reason, he shows how procedures of measuring occupational status and social mobility affected different aspects of one explanation that Peter Blau (...) and Otis Dudley <span class='Hi'>Duncan</span> offered in their sociological classic, The American Occupational Structure . He uses the findings from this case study to meet objections to the erotetic model. Key Words: explanation • social science • erotetic • why-question • context. (shrink)
This paper tracks the commitments of mechanistic explanations focusing on the relation between activities at different levels. It is pointed out that the mechanistic approach is inherently committed to identifying causal connections at higher levels with causal connections at lower levels. For the mechanistic approach to succeed a mechanism as a whole must do the very same thing what its parts organised in a particular way do. The mechanistic approach must also utilise bridge principles connecting different causal terms of (...) different theoretical vocabularies in order to make the identities of causal connections transparent. These general commitments get confronted with two claims made by certain proponents of the mechanistic approach: William Bechtel often argues that within the mechanistic framework it is possible to balance between reducing higher levels and maintaining their autonomy at the same time, whereas, in a recent paper, Craver and Bechtel argue that the mechanistic approach is able to make downward causation intelligible. The paper concludes that the mechanistic approach imbued with identity statements is no better candidate for anchoring higher levels to lower ones while maintaining their autonomy at the same time than standard reductive accounts are, and that what mechanistic explanations are able to do at best is showing that downward causation does not exist. (shrink)
Do functional explanations eclipse the intentionality of human actions? Put differently, do intentional and functional explanations of actions conflict with each other? In this paper, I want to argue that both sorts of explanation, if conceived in a proper way, are compatible instruments. First, I will make a distinction between three kinds of explanatory pluralism of actions: a pluralism of theories of actions, a pluralism of sorts of explanations of actions, and a pluralism of methods for the (...) explanation of actions. Intentional and functional explanations are sorts, not theories or methods, of explanation. Next, I will briefly distinguish intentional and functional explanations: intentional explanations refer to the beliefs and desires of an agent, and functional explanations refer to the function of a motive of an action (etiological functions), or to the function of a result of an action (system functions). Finally, I discuss possible conflicts between both sorts of explanation. In cases where real conflicts between functional and intentional explanations do arise, this is due to the lack of sufficient information or the misinterpretation of information of one or both explanations. Hence, such conflicts are not conflicts between sorts of explanations. (shrink)
Our lives, states of health, relationships, behavior, experiences of the natural world, and the technologies that shape our contemporary existence are subject to a superfluity of competing, multi-faceted and sometimes incompatible explanations. Widespread confusion about the nature of "explanation" and its scope and limits pervades popular exposition of the natural sciences, popular history and philosophy of science. This fascinating book explores the way explanations work, why they vary between disciplines, periods, and cultures, and whether they have any necessary (...) boundaries. In other words, Explanations aims to achieve a better understanding of explanation, both within the sciences and the humanities. It features contributions from expert writers from a wide range of disciplines, including science, philosophy, mathematics, and social anthropology. (shrink)
The reach of explanations -- Closer to reality -- The spark -- Creation -- The reality of abstractions -- The jump to universality -- Artificial creativity -- A window on infinity -- Optimism -- A dream of Socrates -- The multiverse -- A physicist's history of bad philosophy -- Choices -- Why are flowers beautiful? -- The evolution of culture -- The evolution of creativity -- Unsustainable -- The beginning.
Most discussions of causal explanations of behavior focus on the problem of whether it makes sense to regard reasons as causes of human behavior, whether there can be laws connecting reasons with behavior, and the like. This essay discusses explanations of human behavior that do not appeal to reasons. Such explanations can be found in several areas of the social sciences. Moreover, these explanations are both causal and non-reductionist. Historical linguists, for example, offer causal explanations (...) of changes in how words are pronouncedand linguistic change in generalwithout appealing to human intentions. I use examples from linguistics, anthropology, and evolutionary psychology to discuss the importance of this sort of explanation and to examine its compatibility with recent philosophical accounts of causation. (shrink)
After discussing de Sousa's view of emotion in akrasia, I suggest that emotions be viewed as nonconceptual perceptions of value (see Tappolet 2000). It follows that they can render intelligible actions which are contrary to one's better judgment. An emotion can make one's action intelligible even when that action is opposed by one's all-things-considered judgment. Moreover, an akratic action prompted by an emotion may be more rational than following one's better judgement, for it may be the judgement and not the (...) perception which is in error. By contrast, "cool" akrasia is genuinely puzzling; it is not clear whether it exists. (shrink)
This paper defends my claim in earlier work that certain non-causal conditions are sufficient for the truth of some reasons explanations of actions, against the critique of this claim given by Randolph Clarke in his book, Libertarian Accounts of Free Will.
Evolutionary game theoretic accounts of justice attempt to explain our willingness to follow certain principles of justice by appealing to robustness properties possessed by those principles. Skyrms (1996) offers one sketch of how such an account might go for divide-the-dollar, the simplest version of the Nash bargaining game, using the replicator dynamics of Taylor and Jonker (1978). In a recent article, D'Arms et al. (1998) criticize his account and describe a model which, they allege, undermines his theory. I sketch a (...) theory of evolutionary explanations of justice which avoids their methodological criticisms, and develop a spatial model of divide-the-dollar with more robust convergence properties than the models of Skyrms (1996) and D'Arms et al. (1998). (shrink)
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.
Some features of the concept of a want, and of the explaining relation in which a want may stand to an action, have not received sufficient attention. In what follows we shall offer some suggestions and descriptions which may be one step toward remedy of this situationi. We shall be at pains to point out the extent to which the features we describe fit in with a conception of the explanations of actions conforming to the inferential (deductive or inductive) (...) and nomological patterns of scientific explanation, and also to point out where perhaps the fit is not so snug. (shrink)
A main thread of the debate over mathematical realism has come down to whether mathematics does explanatory work of its own in some of our best scientific explanations of empirical facts. Realists argue that it does; anti-realists argue that it doesn't. Part of this debate depends on how mathematics might be able to do explanatory work in an explanation. Everyone agrees that it's not enough that there merely be some mathematics in the explanation. Anti-realists claim there is nothing mathematics (...) can do to make an explanation mathematical; realists think something can be done, but they are not clear about what that something is. I argue that many of the examples of mathematical explanations of empirical facts in the literature can be accounted for in terms of Jackson and Pettit's  notion of program explanation, and that mathematical realists can use the notion of program explanation to support their realism. This is exactly what has happened in a recent thread of the debate over moral realism (in this journal). I explain how the two debates are analogous and how moves that have been made in the moral realism debate can be made in the mathematical realism debate. However, I conclude that one can be a mathematical realist without having to be a moral realist. (shrink)
A long series of studies in social psychology have shown that the explanations people give for their own behaviors are fundamentally different from the explanations they give for the behaviors of others. Still, a great deal of uncertainty remains about precisely what sorts of differences one finds here. We offer a new approach to addressing the problem. Specifically, we distinguish between two levels of representation ─ the level of linguistic structure (which consists of the actual series of words (...) used in the explanation) and the level of conceptual structure (which consists of the concepts these words are used to express). We then formulate and test hypotheses both about self-other differences in conceptual structure and about self-other differences in the mapping from conceptual structure to linguistic structure. (shrink)
The Oxford Handbook provides an extensive and innovative review of developments in Analytical Sociology (AS) which is a theory program which seeks to develop ‘thin explanations’ of social phenomena by understanding their micro-foundations through explicitly developed models and then tracing through the broader consequences of these actions and interactions for aggregate social patterns. The volume covers the key characteristics of this approach in terms of ontology and epistemology and then assays recent developments across over two dozen areas of application: (...) each a particular social mechanism. Methodological approaches particularly pertinent to AS are also covered. However, some of the criticisms of the AS programme are also noted, especially its lack of attention thus far to meso-level and macro-level mechanisms. (shrink)
There is a long tradition in philosophy and the social sciences that emphasizes the meaningfulness of human action. This tradition doubts or even negates the possibility of causal explanations of human action precisely on the basis that human actions have meaning. This article provides an argument in favor of methodological naturalism in the social sciences. It grants the main argument of the Interpretivists, that is, that human actions are meaningful, but it shows how a transformation of a "nexus of (...) meaning" into a "causal nexus" can take place, proposing the "successful transformation argument.". (shrink)
Game theoretic explanations of the evolution of human behavior have become increasingly widespread. At their best, they allow us to abstract from misleading particulars in order to better recognize and appreciate broad patterns in the phenomena of human social life. We discuss this explanatory strategy, contrasting it with the particularist methodology of contemporary evolutionary psychology. We introduce some guidelines for the assessment of evolutionary game theoretic explanations of human behavior: such explanations should be representative, robust, and flexible. (...) Distinguishing these features sharply can help to clarify the import and accuracy of game theorists' claims about the robustness and stability of their explanatory schemes. Our central example is the work of Brian Skyrms, who offers a game theoretic account of the evolution of our sense of justice. Modeling the same Nash game as Skyrms, we show that, while Skyrms' account is robust with respect to certain kinds of variation, it fares less well in other respects. (shrink)
Scientific realists have argued that the truth(likeness) of our theories provides the only explanation for the success of science. I consider alternative explanations proposed by antirealists. I endorse Leplin's contention that neither van Fraassen's Darwinist explanation nor Laudan's methodological explanation provides the sort of explanatory alternative which is called for in this debate. Fine's suggestion--that the empirical adequacy of our theories already explains their success--is more promising for antirealists. Leplin claims that this putative explanation collapses into realism on one (...) reading and into vacuity on another reading. But his analysis conflates three doctrines into two, and one of the three avoids both realism and vacuity. (shrink)
Explanations of three different aspects of the rainbow are considered. The highly mathematical character of these explanations poses some interpretative questions concerning what the success of these explanations tells us about rainbows. I develop a proposal according to which mathematical explanations can highlight what is relevant about a given phenomenon while also indicating what is irrelevant to that phenomenon. This proposal is related to the extensive work by Batterman on asymptotic explanation with special reference to Batterman’s (...) own discussion of the rainbow. (shrink)
This paper suggests explanations for the enduring nature of the tripartite system of secondary education in Germany and the failure to develop the comprehensive school (Gesamtschule) over a long period.
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?).
Using Grunbaum 1984 and 1993 as a springboard, Greenwood (this issue) claims to have offered several methodologically salubrious and exegetically illuminating theses on empirical evaluations of theoretical explanations of psychotherapeutic efficacy. According to his exegesis of Grunbaum's construction (1984, Ch. 2, Section C; 1993, 184-204) of Freud's "Tally Argument," that argument bespeaks a rife neglect of the epistemologically-significant distinction between empirical evaluations of the efficacy of psychotherapy and evaluations of theoretical explanations of that efficacy. Greenwood presents a defense (...) of a qualified version of Popper's critique of psychoanalysis against Grunbaum's objections to it (1984, Ch. 1B). Finally, Greenwood offers a clarification of the concept of a "placebo control" investigation, taking issue with Grunbaum's 1993 (84-87, 91-93). In the present paper, it is argued contra Greenwood that: (1) his purportedly "best" reading of Freud's Tally Argument and of its import founders, (2) the distinction that Greenwood bemoans as being neglected by mental health researchers actually is a commonplace in the literature on treatment-process and therapeutic outcome, (3) Greenwood's defense of Popper's critique of psychoanalysis is an anachronism, and (4) Greenwood's conceptual analysis of placebo controls is nebulous and misconceived. (shrink)
It is shown how the development of physics has involved making explicit what were homocentric projections which had heretofore been implicit, indeed inexpressible in theory. This is shown to support a particular notion of the invariant as the real. On this basis the divergence in ideals of physical intelligibility between Bohr and Einstein is set out. This in turn leads to divergent, but explicit, conceptions of objectivity and completeness for physical theory. *I am indebted to Dr. G. McLelland. Professor (...) F. Rohrlich and an anonymous referee of this journal for several improvements in the formulation of the paper. (shrink)
Abstract The focal point of this analysis of moral agency in contexts of oppression is a case study involving unintelligibility between two women who identify differently with respect to sexual preference. At issue is the moral learning they accomplish as they work toward intelligibility across difference. A conceptual analysis of intelligibility demonstrates its similarity to an ethics of care, although increased sensitivity to political relations is emphasised. The moral learning that takes place as intelligibility is generated is (...) described with respect to: engagement, decentred perception and ?coalition work?. Consideration of the ways such moral learning is relevant to moral educators is presented with reference to a reading of Elizabeth Ellsworth's 1994 paper, ?Why doesn't this feel empowering? Working through the repressive myths of critical pedagogy? (shrink)
This essay will defend a causal conception of action explanations in terms of an agent’s reasons by delineating a metaphysical and epistemic framework that allows us to view folk psychology as providing us with causal and autonomous explanatory strategies of accounting for individual agency. At the same time, I will calm philosophical concerns about the issue of causal deviance that have been at the center of the recent debates between causalist and noncausalist interpretations of action explanations. For that (...) purpose, it is important to realize that the domain of folk-psychological action explanation is also the domain of skillful and goal-directed bodily movements, a domain to which we have independent epistemic access. (shrink)
If the conceptions of belief, desire, and action resemble phlogiston in their scientific standing, how is it that so many true, singular, causal claims about human behavior are made using these concepts? Alexander Rosenberg appeals to the distinction between attributive and referential uses of language to handle this objection. It is argued that this does not work, and that the truth of our singular, causal explanations of human behavior is little short of miraculous given his account of the nomological (...) situation. (shrink)
Important revisions and additions to the contemporary objectives of acceptance rules result from construing a theory of warranted inductive inference to presuppose an account of adequate scientific explanations. We conceive the objects of acceptance rules to be the best of competing scientific explanations. Our primary interest is to show how to construct an analysis of competing explanations. Hence our specific investigation concerns the interrelations between the criteria of adequacy for scientific explanations and the definitions of the (...) modes of competition between explanations. (shrink)
This essay develops a general account of one type of explanation found in history in particular: that an individual action is conceived as an exemplification of a rather complex schema of practical inference, under the provision that the facts which instantiate the various terms of the schema have an intelligible connection to one another. The essay then raises the question whether historians, anthropologists, and their contemporaneous audience can have an internal understanding of the actions of others, where those others come (...) from radically different cultures or times from the historians or anthropologists. An account is offered that, arguably, can resolve this problem and do justice to both the claim of internal understanding and the presumed cultural differentness between the agents studied and the historians and anthropologists who do the study. (shrink)
In this paper we argue that structural explanations are an effective way of explaining well known relativistic phenomena like length contraction and time dilation, and then try to understand how this can be possible by looking at the literature on scientific models. In particular, we ask whether and how a model like that provided by Minkowski spacetime can be said to represent the physical world, in such a way that it can successfully explain physical phenomena structurally. We conclude by (...) claiming that a partial isomorphic approach to scientific representation can supply an answer only if supplemented by a robust injection of pragmatic factors. (shrink)
Many cognitive scientists, having discovered that some computational-level characterization f of a cognitive capacity φ is intractable, invoke heuristics as algorithmic-level explanations of how cognizers compute f. We argue that such explanations are actually dysfunctional, and rebut five possible objections. We then propose computational-level theory revision as a principled and workable alternative.
Wittgensteinian readings of Being and Time, and of the source of the intelligibility of Dasein''s world, in terms of language and the average everyday public practices of das Man are partly right and partly wrong. They are right in correcting overly individualist and existentialist readings of Heidegger. But they are wrong in making Heidegger into a proponent of language or everydayness as the final word on intelligibility and the way the world is disclosed to us. The everydayness of (...) das Man and language are partial sources of intelligibility but only insofar as they are comprehended within the greater unitary structure of care and temporality. Care and temporality constitute the foundational underpinnings for disclosure and the intelligibility ofthat wherein Dasein dwells. (shrink)
As is well known, Alan Turing drew a line, embodied in the "Turing test," between intellectual and physical abilities, and hence between cognitive and natural sciences. Less familiarly, he proposed that one way to produce a "passer" would be to educate a "child machine," equating the experimenter's improvements in the initial structure of the child machine with genetic mutations, while supposing that the experimenter might achieve improvements more expeditiously than natural selection. On the other hand, in his foundational "On the (...) chemical basis of morphogenesis," Turing insisted that biological explanation clearly confine itself to purely physical and chemical means, eschewing vitalist and teleological talk entirely and hewing to D'Arcy Thompson's line that "evolutionary 'explanations,'" are historical and narrative in character, employing the same intentional and teleological vocabulary we use in doing human history, and hence, while perhaps on occasion of heuristic value, are not part of biology as a natural science. To apply Turing's program to recent issues, the attempt to give foundations to the social and cognitive sciences in the "real science" of evolutionary biology (as opposed to Turing's biology) is neither to give foundations, nor to achieve the unification of the social/cognitive sciences and the natural sciences. (shrink)
The so-called evolutionary approach is getting more and more popular in various branches of philosophy. Evolutionary explanations are often used in virtually every classical philosophical discipline. The structure of evolutionary explanations is examined and it is pointed out that only one sub-category of evolutionary explanations, namely, nonreductive, non-stipulated adaptation-explanation can be of any philosophical significance. I finish by examining which of the proposed philosophical arguments use this kind of evolutionary explanation. The answer will be disappointing for those (...) who would like to think of philosophy as a branch of evolutionary biology. (shrink)
Technical artifacts have the capacity to fulfill their function in virtue of their physicochemical make-up. An explanation that purports to explicate this relation between artifact function and structure can be called a technological explanation. It might be argued, and Peter Kroes has in fact done so, that there issomething peculiar about technological explanations in that they are intrinsically normative in some sense. Since the notion of artifact function is a normative one (if an artifact has a proper function, it (...) ought to behave in specific ways) an explanation of an artifact’s function must inherit this normativity.In this paper I will resist this conclusion by outlining and defending a ‘buck-passing account’ of the normativity of technological explanations. I will first argue that it is important to distinguish properly between (1) a theory of function ascriptions and (2) an explanation of how a function is realized. The task of the former is to spell out the conditions under which one is justified in ascribing a function to an artifact; the latter should show how the physicochemical make-up of an artifact enables it to fulfill its function. Second, I wish to maintain that a good theory of function ascriptions should account for the normativity of these ascriptions. Provided such a function theory can be formulated — as I think it can — a technological explanation may pass the normativity buck to it. Third, to flesh out these abstract claims, I show how a particular function theory — to wit, the ICE theory by Pieter Vermaas and Wybo Houkes — can be dovetailed smoothly with my own thoughts on technological explanation. (shrink)
Explanations of descriptions of events are undivided, holistic, units of analysis for the purpose of justification. Their justifications are based on the transmission of information about the past and its interpretation and analysis. Further analysis of explanations of descriptions of events is redundant. The “holistic” model of explanations fits better the actual practices of scientists, historians and ordinary people who utter explanatory propositions than competing models. I consider the “inference to the best explanation” model and argue that (...) under one interpretation, it cannot account for all the paradigmatic cases of explanation of description of events that I present, though under another interpretation it fits comfortably with my holistic model. Finally, I argue that there is nothing intrinsic or structural to distinguish holistic explanations of descriptions of events from other hypothetical propositions because the pragmatic context of inquiry may well determine exclusively whether a proposition is considered explanatory. (shrink)
. Evolutionary psychology and behavioural genomics are both approaches to explain human behaviour from a genetic point of view. Nonetheless, thus far the development of these disciplines is anything but interdependent. This paper examines the question whether evolutionary psychology can contribute to behavioural genomics. Firstly, a possible inconsistency between the two approaches is reviewed, viz. that evolutionary psychology focuses on the universal human nature and disregards the genetic variation studied by behavioural genomics. Secondly, we will discuss the structure of biological (...)explanations. Some philosophers rightly acknowledge that explanations do not involve laws which are exceptionless and universal. Instead, generalisations that are invariant suffice for successful explanation as long as two other stipulations are recognised: the domain within which the generalisation has no exceptions as well as the distribution of the mechanism described by the generalisation should both be specified. It is argued that evolutionary psychology can contribute to behavioural genomic explanations by accounting for these two specifications. (shrink)
Abstract: Situations that social scientists and others explain by using concepts like "custom" and "norm" often tend to be situations in which many other kinds of explanations (for example, biological, psychological, economic, historical) seem plausible as well. Do these other explanations compete with the custom or norm explanations, or do they complement them? We need to consider this question carefully and not just assume that various accounts are all permissible at different levels of analysis. In this article (...) I describe two families of noncompeting accounts: (1) explanations of different (but similarly described) facts, and (2) accounts that seem to differ but are really different parts or versions of the same underlying explanation. I argue that while many types of apparent competitors don't really compete with norms, there are usually some that do. These competing accounts will usually undermine the norm account. (shrink)
Some social scientists and philosophers (e.g., James Coleman and Jon Elster) claim that all social facts are best explained by means of a micro-explanation. They defend a micro-reductionism in the social sciences: to explain is to provide a mechanism on the individual level. The first aim of this paper is to challenge this view and defend the view that it has to be substituted for an explanatory pluralism with two components: (1) structural explanations of P-, O- and T-contrasts between (...) social facts are more efficient than the competing micro-explanations; and (2) whether a plain social fact (as opposed to a contrast) is best explained in a micro-explanation or a structural explanation depends on the explanatory interest. The second aim of the paper is to show how this explanatory pluralism is compatible with ontological individualism. This paper is motivated by our conviction that explanatory pluralism as defended by Frank Jackson and Philip Pettit is on the right track, but must be further elaborated. We want to supplement their contribution, by (1) introducing the difference between explanations of facts and explanations of contrasts; (2) giving examples from the social sciences, instead of mainly from the natural sciences or common sense knowledge; and (3) emphasizing the pragmatic relevance of explanations on different levels –social, psychological, biological, etc. – which is insufficiently done by Jackson and Pettit. (shrink)
Social scientists using one or another concept of process have paid little attention to underlying issues of methodology and explanation. Commonly, the concept used is a loose one. When it is not, there often are other problems, such as errors of reification and of assuming that events sometimes connected in a sequence are invariably thus connected. While it may be useful to retain the term " process" for some sequences of intelligibly connected actions and events, causal explanation must be (...) sought with respect to the events constituting processes rather than with respect to processes regarded as unitary entities. (shrink)
The prevention, treatment and management of disease are closely linked to how the causes of a particular disease are explained. For multi-factorial conditions, the causal explanations are inevitably complex and competing models may exist to explain the same condition. Selecting one particular causal explanation over another will carry practical and ethical consequences that are acutely relevant for health policy. In this paper our focus is two-fold; (i) the different models of causal explanation that are put forward within current scientific (...) literature for the high and rising prevalence of the common complex conditions of coronary artery disease (CAD) and type 2 diabetes mellitus (T2D); and (ii) how these explanations are taken up (or not) within national health policy guidelines. We examine the causal explanations for these two conditions through a systematic database search of current scientific literature. By identifying different causal explanations we propose a three-tier taxonomy of the most prominent models of explanations: (i) evolutionary, (ii) lifecourse, and (iii) lifestyle and environment. We elaborate this taxonomy with a micro-level thematic analysis to illustrate how some explanations are semantically and rhetorically foregrounded over others. We then investigate the uptake of the scientific causal explanations in health policy documents with regard to the prevention and management recommendations of current National Service Frameworks for CAD and T2D. Our findings indicate a lack of congruence between the complexity and frequent overlap of causal explanations evident in the scientific literature and the predominant focus on lifestyle recommendations found in the mainstream health policy documents. (shrink)
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 or more contrasts between real intentional states and ideal intentional states (ideal from the point of view of the explainer). In many other cases IEAs have a descriptive (covering-law) format. The aim of this paper is to analyze the functions the two kinds of explanations can have. We will show that certain functions are better served by one rather than the other format. This leads to pluralism with respect to formats. We argue that both formats are necessary and that their functions are complementary. (shrink)
Reconstructing Popper's research programme for the Human Sciences, Noretta Koertge (Inquiry , Vol. 18 ) has given a deductive-nomological account of explanations of actions by means of a Rationality Principle. It is argued here that such a Rationality Principle is fundamentally redundant. Neither is it logically necessary in order to deduce a cognitive action-explanandum, nor can it be given a semantic non-empty interpretation, at least not within Koertge's own syllogism. Any attempt to save the Rationality Principle as unfalsifiablc but (...) nevertheless indispensable for action explanations is rejected in the light of possible alternative action explanations by empirical and therefore in principle falsifiable psychological laws. (shrink)
Reconstructing Popper's research programme for the Human Sciences, Noretta Koertge (Inquiry, Vol. 18 ) has given a deductive?nomological account of explanations of actions by means of a Rationality Principle. It is argued here that such a Rationality Principle is fundamentally redundant. Neither is it logically necessary in order to deduce a cognitive action?explanandum, nor can it be given a semantic non?empty interpretation, at least not within Koertge's own syllogism. Any attempt to save the Rationality Principle as unfalsifiablc but nevertheless (...) indispensable for action explanations is rejected in the light of possible alternative action explanations by empirical and therefore in principle falsifiable psychological laws. (shrink)
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 (...) the end of the paper I outline a set of desiderata for an epistemologically motivated, scientifically informed belief revision model for explanation. (shrink)
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 (...) last position. Finally, our third aim is to argue that pluralism should not be equated with “anything goes”: we will argue for non-relativistic explanatory pluralism. This pluralism will be illustrated by examples from history and social science in which different forms of explanation (for example, structural, functional, and intentional explanations) are discussed, and the fruitfulness of our framework for understanding explanatory pluralism is shown. (shrink)
The analyses of explanation and causal beliefs are heavily dependent on using probability functions as models of epistemic states. There are, however, several aspects of beliefs that are not captured by such a representation and which affect the outcome of the analyses. One dimension that has been neglected in this article is the temporal aspect of the beliefs. The description of a single event naturally involves the time it occurred. Some analyses of causation postulate that the cause must not occur (...) later than the effect. If we want this kind of causality it is easy to add the appropriate clause to ( CAUS ). An alternative is not to rule out backwards causation or causal loops a priori , but expect that ( CAUS ), via the properties of the contraction P C - , will result in the desired temporal relation between C and E . One way of ensuring this is to postulate that when the probability function P is contracted to P C - , the probabilities of all events that occurred before C remain the same in P C - as in P . This means that all beliefs about the history of events up to C are left unaltered in the construction of the hypothetical state of belief P C - . In conclusion, I hope to have shown that, in spite of these limitations, ( EXP ) and ( CAUS ) provide viable analyses of explanation and causality between single events for the case when epistemic states can be described by probability functions. I have also shown that the two analyses can be used to explicate the close connections between the two notions. These analyses reduce the problems of explanation and causality, hopefully in a non-circular way, to the problem of identifying contractions of states of belief. (shrink)
Causal explanations of behavior must distinguish two kinds of cause. There are (what I call) triggering causes, the events or conditions that come before the effect and are followed regularly by the effect, and (what I call) structuring causes, events that cause a triggering cause to produce its effect. Moving the mouse is the triggering cause of cursor movement; hardware and programming conditions are the structuring causes of cursor movement. I use this distinction to show how representational facts (how (...) an animal represents the world) can be structuring causes of behavior even though biological (i.e., electrical–chemical) events trigger the behavior. (shrink)
Many explanations in science make use of mathematics. But are there cases where the mathematical component of a scientific explanation is explanatory in its own right? This issue of mathematical explanations in science has been for the most part neglected. I argue that there are genuine mathematical explanations in science, and present in some detail an example of such an explanation, taken from evolutionary biology, involving periodical cicadas. I also indicate how the answer to my title question (...) impacts on broader issues in the philosophy of mathematics; in particular it may help platonists respond to a recent challenge by Joseph Melia concerning the force of the Indispensability Argument. (shrink)
Gilbert Harman and Judith Thomson have argued that moral facts cannot explain our moral beliefs, claiming that such facts could not play a causal role in the formation of those beliefs. This paper shows these arguments to be misguided, for they would require that we abandon any number of intuitively plausible explanations in non-moral contexts as well. But abandoning the causal strand in the argument over moral explanations does not spell immediate victory for the moral realist, since it (...) must still be shown that moral facts do figure in our best global explanatory theory. (shrink)
Moral internalism and moral externalism compete over the best explanation of the link between judgment and relevant motivation but, it is argued, they differ at best only verbally. The internalist rational-conceptual nature of the link’ as accounted by M. Smith in The Moral Problem is contrasted to the externalist, also rational, link that requires in addition support from the agent’s psychological-dispositional profile; the internalist link, however, is found to depend crucially on a, similarly to the externalist, psychologically ‘loaded’ profile. It (...) is also argued that the differentiation of the two competing explanations is insufficient partly because they both fail to consider crucial quantitative parameters of the judgment-motivation link. Such parameters become very important particularly in the light of Smith’s claim that this link is grounded on the observable “striking fact” where changes in the set of one’s moral beliefs systematically bring about changes in one’s moral behavior. Examples of algorithms measuring moral coherence and moral worth are provided to serve as evidence for what it comes down to, vis-à-vis the alleged fact, only a verbal dispute between the two camps. Finally, the ‘misfiring’ of these explanations is understood in connection to the irreducibility of concepts such as ‘moral worth’, and/or, ‘moral sensitivity’. (shrink)
According to David Chalmers, the hard problem of consciousness consists of explaining how and why qualitative experience arises from physical states. Moreover, Chalmers argues that materialist and reductive explanations of mentality are incapable of addressing the hard problem. In this chapter, I suggest that Chalmers’ hard problem can be usefully distinguished into a ‘how question’ and ‘why question,’ and I argue that evolutionary biology has the resources to address the question of why qualitative experience arises from brain states. From (...) this perspective, I discuss the different kinds of evolutionary explanations (e.g., adaptationist, exaptationist, spandrel) that can explain the origins of the qualitative aspects of various conscious states. This argument is intended to clarify which parts of Chalmers’ hard problem are amenable to scientific analysis. (shrink)
Adaptationist accounts of morality attempt to explain the evolution of morality in terms of the selective advantage that judging in moral terms secured for our ancestors (e.g. Ruse 1998; Joyce 2006; Street 2006). So-called by-product explanations of morality have been presented as an alternative to adaptationist accounts (e.g. Prinz 2009; Ayala 2010; cf. Darwin 2004/1871). In assessing the relationship between adaptationist and by-product accounts, care must be taken to distinguish several related but importantly different notions: innateness, adaptation, exaptation, spandrel, (...) and by-product. (shrink)
The evolutionary maintenance of sexual reproduction is a case of explanatory pluralism of central importance to evolutionary biology. I analyze this pluralism from an epistemological perspective. My thesis is that the various explanations of sex are explanatory by virtue of local factors and hence are importantly distinct from one another and cannot be subsumed under a single unifying framework. A critic may argue that philosophical accounts of mechanism can provide just such a framework. I show that this attempt at (...) unification fails because the accounts of sex are not explanatory simply in light of being their being mechanistic; rather they are explanatory because they are particular kinds of mechanisms. The explanatory power of a mechanism is dependent on its epistemological context and the contexts of these mechanisms differ. (shrink)
The paper explores how, in economics and biology, theoretical models are used as explanatory devices. It focuses on a modelling strategy by which, instead of starting with an unexplained regularity in the world, the modeller begins by creating a credible model world. The model world exhibits a regularity, induced by a mechanism in that world. The modeller concludes that there may be a part of the real world in which a similar regularity occurs and that, were that the case, the (...) model would offer an explanation. Little concrete guidance is given about where such a regularity might be found. Three modelling exercises in evolutionary game theory—one from economics and two from biology—are used as case studies. Two of these (one from each discipline) exemplify ‘explanation in search of observation’. The third goes a step further, analysing a regularity in a model world and treating it as informative about the real world, but without saying anything about real phenomena. The paper argues that if the relation between the model and real worlds is understood in terms of similarity, and if modelling is understood as an ongoing discovery process rather than as the demonstration of empirical truths, there can be value in creating explanations before finding the regularities that are to be explained. (shrink)
Natural selection explains how living forms are fitted to theirconditions of life. Darwin argued that selection also explains what hecalled the gradual advancement of the organisation, i.e.evolutionary progress. Present-day selectionists disagree. In theirview, it is happenstance that sustains conditions favorable to progress,and therefore happenstance, not selection, that explains progress. Iargue that the disagreement here turns not on whether there exists aselection-based condition bias – a belief now attributed to Darwin – but on whether there needs to be such a bias (...) for selection to count as explaining progress. In Darwin''s own view, selection explained progressso far as more complex organisms have the selective advantage whenselection operates unimpeded. I show that these two explanations ofevolutionary progress, selection and happenstance, answer for theirobjectivity to different standards, and for their truth or falsehood todifferent features of the world. (shrink)
In this article (1) I extract from Brentano’s works (three) formal arguments against “genealogical explanations” of ethical claims. Such explanation can also be designated as “naturalism” (not his appellation); (2) I counter these arguments, by showing how genealogical explanations of even apodictic moral claims are logically possible (albeit only if certain unlikely, stringent conditions are met); (3) I show how Nietzsche’s ethics meets these stringent conditions, but evolutionary ethics does not. My more general thesis is that naturalism and (...) intuitionism in ethics need not be mutually incompatible. (shrink)
Davidson held that the explanation of action in terms of reasons was a form of causal explanation. He challenged anti-causalists to identify a non-causal relation underlying reasons-explanation which could distinguish between merely having a reason and that reason being the one for which one acts. George Wilson attempts to meet Davidson's challenge, but the relation he identifies can serve only in explanations of general facts, whereas reasons explanation is often of particular acts. This suggests that the relation underlying reasons (...) explanation is not only causal, but singular as well. A further proposal, extracted from Fred Dretske's views, characterizes this singular causal relation in terms of non-mental triggers. But this suggestion underestimates the explanatory role of the environment at the time of action, and shares with Wilson's proposal the inability to account for the rationalization of particular acts. A situational environmentalist conception of reasons explanation, however, does not face these difficulties. (shrink)
The paper argues for a pragmatic account of genetic explanation. This is to say that when a disease or other trait is termed genetic, the reasons for singling out genes as causes over other, also necessary, genetic and nongenetic conditions are not wholly theoretical but include pragmatic dimensions. Whether the explanation is the presence of a trait in an individual or differences in a trait among individuals, genetic explanations are context-dependent in three ways: they are relative to a causal (...) background of genetic and nongenetic factors; they are relative to a population; and they are relative to the present state of knowledge. Criteria like causal priority, nonstandardness, and causal efficacy that purport to distinguish objectively between genetic causes and nongenetic conditions either incorporate pragmatic elements or fail for other reasons. When the pragmatic dimensions of genetic explanations are recognized, we come to understand the current phenomenon of geneticization to be a reflection of increased technological capacities to manipulate genes in the laboratory, and potentially the clinic, rather than theoretical progress in understanding how diseases and other traits arise. This calls into question the value of the search for theoretical definitions of designations like genetic disease or genetic susceptibility as directives for action. (shrink)
This article reveals that explanatory practice in software engineering is in accordance with pragmatic explanatory pluralism, which states that explanations should at least partially be evaluated by their practical use. More specifically, I offer a defense of the idea that several explanation-types are legitimate in software engineering, and that the appropriateness of an explanation-type depends on (a) the engineer’s interests, and (b) the format of the explanation-seeking question he asks, with this format depending on his interests. This idea is (...) defended by considering examples that are representative for explanatory practice in software engineering. Different kinds of technological explanation are spelled out, and the dependence of their appropriateness on interests and question-formats is extensively illustrated. (shrink)
Some causal explanations are non-committal in that mention of a property in the explanans conveys information about the causal origin of the explanandum even if the property in question plays no causal role for the explanandum . Programme explanations are a variety of non-committal causal (NCC) explanations. Yet their interest is very limited since, as I will argue in this paper, their range of applicability is in fact quite narrow. However there is at least another variety of (...) NCC explanations, causal orientation explanations, which offer a plausible model for many explanations in the special sciences. (shrink)
In a recent paper in this journal (Rottschaefer and Martinsen 1990) we have proposed a view of Darwinian evolutionary metaethics that we believe improves upon Michael Ruse's (e.g., Ruse 1986) proposals by claiming that there are evolutionary based objective moral values and that a Darwinian naturalistic account of the moral good in terms of human fitness can be given that avoids the naturalistic fallacy in both its definitional and derivational forms while providing genuine, even if limited, justifications for substantive ethical (...) claims. Jonathan Barrett (this issue) has objected to our proposal contending that we cannot hold for the reality of supervenient moral properties without either falling foul of the naturalistic fallacy or suffering the consequences of postulating inexplicable moral properties. In reply, we show that Barrett's explicit arguments that we commit either the definitional or derivational form of the naturalistic fallacy fail and that his naturalistic intuitions that supervenience explanations of moral properties by nonmoral properties force us into what we call the explanatory form of the naturalistic fallacy also fail. Positively, his objections help us to clarify the nature of the naturalistic fallacy within an evolutionary based naturalistic ethics and to point out the proper role of both supervenience explanations and moral explanations in such an ethics. (shrink)
There have been two different schools of thought on the evolution of dominance. On the one hand, followers of Wright [Wright S. 1929. Am. Nat. 63: 274–279, Evolution: Selected Papers by Sewall Wright, University of Chicago Press, Chicago; 1934. Am. Nat. 68: 25–53, Evolution: Selected Papers by Sewall Wright, University of Chicago Press, Chicago; Haldane J.B.S. 1930. Am. Nat. 64: 87–90; 1939. J. Genet. 37: 365–374; Kacser H. and Burns J.A. 1981. Genetics 97: 639–666] have defended the view that dominance (...) is a product of non-linearities in gene expression. On the other hand, followers of Fisher [Fisher R.A. 1928a. Am. Nat. 62: 15–126; 1928b. Am. Nat. 62: 571–574; Bürger R. 1983a. Math. Biosci. 67: 125–143; 1983b. J. Math. Biol. 16: 269–280; Wagner G. and Burger R. 1985. J. Theor. Biol. 113: 475–500; Mayo O. and Reinhard B. 1997. Biol. Rev. 72: 97–110] have argued that dominance evolved via selection on modifier genes. Some have called these “physiological” versus “selectionist,” or more recently [Falk R. 2001. Biol. Philos. 16: 285–323], “functional,” versus “structural” explanations of dominance. This paper argues, however, that one need not treat these explanations as exclusive. While one can disagree about the most likely evolutionary explanation of dominance, as Wright and Fisher did, offering a “physiological” or developmental explanation of dominance does not render dominance “epiphenomenal,” nor show that evolutionary considerations are irrelevant to the maintenance of dominance, as some [Kacser H. and Burns J.A. 1981. Genetics 97: 639–666] have argued. Recent work [Gilchrist M.A. and Nijhout H.F. 2001. Genetics 159: 423–432] illustrates how biological explanation is a multi-level task, requiring both a “top-down” approach to understanding how a pattern of inheritance or trait might be maintained in populations, as well as “bottom-up” modeling of the dynamics of gene expression. (shrink)
Some legal theorists deny that states can conceivably act extra-legally, in the sense of acting contrary to domestic law. This position finds its most robust articulation in the writings of Hans Kelsen, and has more recently been taken up by David Dyzenhaus in the context of his work on emergencies and legality. This paper seeks to demystify their arguments and, ultimately, contend that we can intelligibly speak of the state as a legal wrongdoer or a legally unauthorized actor.
Hilary Putnam’s influential analysis of the ‘division of linguistic labour’ has a striking application in the area of doctor–patient interaction: patients typically think of themselves as consumers of technical medical terms in the sense that they normally defer to health professionals’ explanations of meaning. It is at the same time well documented that patients tend to think they are entitled to understand lay health terms like ‘sickness’ and ‘illness’ in ways that do not necessarily correspond to health professionals’ understanding. (...) Drawing on recent philosophical theories of concept possession, the article argues that this disparity between medical and lay vocabulary implies that it is, in an important range of cases, easier for doctors to create a communicative platform of shared concepts by using and explaining special medical expressions than by using common lay expressions. This conclusion is contrasted with the view that doctors and patients typically understand each other when they use lay vocabulary. Obviously, use of expressions like ‘sickness’ or ‘illness’ does not necessarily lead to poor communication, but it is important that doctors have an awareness of how patients interpret such terms. (shrink)
Game-theoretic explanations of behavior need supplementation to be descriptive; behavior has multiple causes, only some governed by traditional rationality. An evolutionarily informed theory of action countenances overlapping causal domains: neurobiological, psychological, and rational. Colman's discussion is insufficient because he neither evaluates learning models nor qualifies under what conditions his propositions hold. Still, inability to incorporate emotions in axiomatic models highlights the need for a comprehensive theory of functional rationality.
Several writers have argued for the implausibility of there being naturalistic explanations of mystical experience. These writers recognize that the evidential significance of mystical experiences for theism depends upon whether explanations that exclude supernatural agency can be discounted; but they seem unaware of some of the best scientific work done in this area. Part I of the present paper introduces the theory of I. M. Lewis, an anthropologist, and tests it against the case of St Teresa. I (...) use Teresa because of her prominence, and because we have considerable biographical data for her. I conclude that Lewis's approach, suitably supplemented, is strikingly successful in explaining this case. (shrink)
Despite its diminished importance amongst philosophers, the deductive-nomological framework is still important to contemporary behavioral scientists. Behavioral theorists operating within this framework must be careful to distinguish between nesting and chaining. Explanations are chained when the explanandum sentence of one explanation is one of the antecedent conditions of another. They are nested when one of the antecedent conditions or the explanandum sentence of one explanation is one of the covering laws of another. Confusion between nesting and chaining leads to (...) explanation nests that cannot be nomologically entrenched. They cannot, even in principle, be logically connected to laws arising from other sciences. This hazard should be particularly important for evolutionary psychologists to avoid, since many evolutionary psychologists tend to see themselves as dedicated to both nomological entrenchment and cognitive functionalist models. The hazard can be avoided if the intentional constructs of the behavioral sciences are construed not as ineffable and inaccessible antecedent conditions, but as complex, law-like patterns in behavior. (shrink)
Naturalistic explanations (of linguistic behaviour) have to answer two questions: What is meant by giving a naturalistic explanation, and what does it explain after all? Two kinds of descriptivism present in Wittgenstein´s work are distinguished and applied to Hirsch´s “division problem”. They answer the two questions raised and keeping in mind their distinction is important to assess naturalistic explanations.
The all too common sunk cost effect is apparent when an investor influenced by what has been spent already persists in a venture, committing further resources or foregoing more profitable opportunities, when the economically rational action is to quit. Less common but arguably just as much a sunk cost effect is the mistake of giving up on a failed or failing venture too readily, sometimes out of nothing but pique at what has been lost, or perhaps through the more subtle (...) psychological forces posited by Kahneman, Tversky, Thaler and others within prospect theory and related work on ``mental budgeting''. Two case examples are considered, wherein decision makers dissatisfied with the results of their investments, and having lost money, appear to compound their losses by selling out at prices less than their own estimates of the remaining financial worth of the failed assets. These decisions are evaluated from the perspectives of both behavioral and prescriptive economics, and are found to have possible explanations in both. Their prescriptive rationale assumes a portfolio theory of investment decisions, and is demonstrated within both expected utility (economics) and mean-variance (finance) frameworks. (shrink)
According to a model defended by some authors, dispositional predicates, or concepts, can be legitimately used in causal explanations, but such a use is not necessary. For every explanation couched in dispositional terms, there is always a better, and complete, explanation that makes use of a different vocabulary, that of categorial bases. In what follows, I will develop this view, and then argue that there is a kind of use of dispositions in explanations that does not fall within (...) this model. That is, I will argue that we would miss some explanations if we were to forsake dispositional concepts and dispositional explanations. (shrink)
If dispositions are conceived as properties of systems that refer to possible causal relations, dispositions can be used in singular causal explanations. By means of these dispositional explanations, we can explain behavior B of a system x by (i) referring to a situation of type S that triggered B, given that x has a disposition D to do B in S, or (ii) by referring to a disposition D of x to do B in S, given that x (...) is in a situation of type S. Dispositional explanations are adequate and indispensable explanations: they can explain behavior B without explicitly referring to the underlying causal basis in x that constitutes a disposition to do B. Radical Behaviorist explanations are a sort of dispositional explanations, but the dispositional model is not restricted to these explanations. The dispositional model is compatible with, or can be applied to, several research programs. (shrink)
Theories in the behavioral sciences are constrained so that stated relationships are empirically testable and explanations have predictive power. These constraints constitute the classical paradigm, and are trivial just when ?causal relationships? do not hold. It appears that such relationships do not hold for linguistic, and presumably other, behaviors, thus precluding study within the classical paradigm. This compels study of those behaviors in terms of the non?traditional approach to testability and explanation developed in Chomskyan linguistics. These constitute the grammatical (...) paradigm. The existence of two paradigms requires that any inquiry begin by determining which paradigm is appropriate. (shrink)
This paper: (1) gives a schema of the logical structure of functional explanation in biology; (2) shows that it falls under the covering law model of explanation by proving that the explanandum follows from the explanans; and (3) supports the claim that it captures the logical structure underlying the biological usage by analyzing in detail two cases from biology.
Ever since Darwin people have worried about the sceptical implications of evolution. If our minds are products of evolution like those of other animals, why suppose that the beliefs they produce are true, rather than merely useful? In this chapter we apply this argument to beliefs in three different domains: morality, religion, and science. We identify replies to evolutionary scepticism that work in some domains but not in others. The simplest reply to evolutionary scepticism is that the truth of beliefs (...) in a certain domain is, in fact, connected to evolutionary success, so that evolution can be expected to design systems that produce true beliefs in that domain. We call a connection between truth and evolutionary success a ‘Milvian bridge’, after the tradition which ascribes the triumph of Christianity at the battle of the Milvian bridge to the truth of Christianity. We argue that a Milvian bridge can be constructed for commonsense beliefs, and extended to scientific beliefs, but not to moral and religious beliefs. An alternative reply to evolutionary scepticism, which has been used defend moral beliefs, is to argue that their truth does not depend on their tracking some external state of affairs. We ask if this reply could be used to defend religious beliefs. (shrink)
Beginning with Descartes' caution not “imprudently” to “take some other object in place of myself”, I consider first the problems of self-identification confronted by various amnesiacs , both ordinary and Cartesian. Noting that cogitationes as such do not individuate, I proceed to examine conclusions drawn from certain sorts of “body-switching” thought experiments. This, in turn, gives rise to a general critique of “psychological connectedness” or “unity of consciousness” as a candidate criterion of personal identity. I conclude that our ability to (...) apply any notion of personal identity is parasitic upon the existence of a conceptual apparatus for individuating, identifying, and reidentifying objects. Finally, I argue that, if ‘person’ is a proper sortal predicate to begin with, Descartes' res cogitans cannot be understood as a species of the (metaphysical) genus res , distinct from res extensa and only problematically in “interaction” with it. Cartesian dualism is a multiply untenable doctrine. (shrink)
The possible role of language in intermodular communication and non-domain-specific thinking is an empirical issue that is independent of the “vehicle” claim that natural language is “constitutive” of some thoughts. Despite noting objections to various forms of the thesis that we think in language, Carruthers entirely neglects a potentially fatal objection to his own preferred version of this “cognitive conception.”.