Explanation

Edited by Brad Weslake (New York University, Shanghai)
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  1. The End of Mystery.Sam Baron & Mark Colyvan - forthcoming - American Philosophical Quarterly.
    Tim travels back in time and tries to kill his grandfather before his father was born. Tim fails. But why? Lewis’s response was to cite ‘coincidences’: Tim is the unlucky subject of gun jammings, banana peels, sudden changes of heart and so on. A number of challenges have been raised against Lewis’s response. The latest of these focuses on explanation. This paper diagnoses the source of this new disgruntlement and offers an alternative explanation for Tim’s failure, one that Lewis would (...)
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  2. The Structure and Epistemic Import of Multiple Determination in Scientific Practice.Klodian Coko - 2015 - Dissertation, Indiana University
    Empirical multiple determination (multiple determination, for short) is the epistemic strategy of establishing the same result by means of multiple and independent procedures. It is an important epistemic strategy praised by both philosophers of science and practicing scientists. Commentators from different contexts have referred to multiple determination as one of the main strategies that researchers use to establish the reliability of their results. Multiple determination has been used to address a variety of problems that arise because of the fallibility of (...)
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  3. Why Do Certain States of Affairs Call Out for Explanation? A Critique of Two Horwichian Accounts.Dan Baras - 2018 - Philosophia:1-15.
    Motivated by examples, many philosophers believe that there is a significant distinction between states of affairs that are striking and therefore call for explanation and states of affairs that are not striking. This idea underlies several influential debates in metaphysics, philosophy of mathematics, normative theory, philosophy of modality, and philosophy of science but is not fully elaborated or explored. This paper aims to address this lack of clear explanation first by clarifying the epistemological issue at hand. Then it introduces an (...)
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  4. Speech Act Theory and the Multiple Aims of Science.Paul L. Franco - manuscript
    I draw upon speech act theory to understand the speech acts appropriate to the multiple aims of scientific practice and the role of nonepistemic values in evaluating speech acts made relative to those aims. First, I look at work that distinguishes explaining from describing within scientific practices. I then argue speech act theory provides a framework to make sense of how explaining, describing, and other acts have different felicity conditions. Finally, I argue that if explaining aims to convey understanding to (...)
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  5. Review of 'Theoretical Virtues in Science' by Samuel Schindler. [REVIEW]Darren Bradley - manuscript
  6. Indispensable Falsehoods.Kevin McCain - 2018 - Science and Education: Academic Journal of Ushynsky University 27 (5-6):547-550.
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  7. Frameworks for Historians & Philosophers.Adrian Currie & Kirsten Walsh - 2018 - Hopos: The Journal of the International Society for the History of Philosophy of Science.
    The past can be a stubborn subject: it is complex, heterogeneous and opaque. To understand it, one must decide which aspects of the past to emphasise and which to minimise. Enter frameworks. Frameworks foreground certain aspects of the historical record while backgrounding others. As such, they are both necessary for, and conducive to, good history as well as good philosophy. We examine the role of frameworks in the history and philosophy of science and argue that they are necessary for both (...)
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  8. Grounding and the Explanatory Role of Generalizations.Stefan Roski - 2018 - Philosophical Studies 175 (8):1985-2003.
    According to Hempel’s influential theory of explanation, explaining why some a is G consists in showing that the truth that a is G follows from a law-like generalization to the effect that all Fs are G together with the initial condition that a is F. While Hempel’s overall account is now widely considered to be deeply flawed, the idea that some generalizations play the explanatory role that the account predicts is still often endorsed by contemporary philosophers of science. This idea, (...)
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  9. Philosophy of Science A to Z, Arabic Translation فلسفة العلم من الألف إلى الياء.Salah Osman - 2018 - Cairo, Cairo Governorate, Egypt: Ministry of Culture, National Center for Translation.
    دليل مُرتَّب أبجديًا للمصطلحات الأساسية، وكذلك لأشهر الأعلام، في المجالات المختلفة لفلسفة العلم. يُغطي الكتاب أبرز المشكلات، والمواقف، والتصورات، والحجج التي كانت مثار مناقشات واسعة بين الفلاسفة. والهدف الأساسي له هو فهم المناقشات الحالية من خلال تتبع وتفسير تطوراتها التاريخية وارتباطاتها بالمسائل الفلسفية الأبعد. ومع أن الكتاب يفترض مسبقًا وجود خلفية معرفية بفلسفة العلم لدى القارئ، إلا أنه مفيد بالقدر ذاته لكل من المبتدئين من دارسي فلسفة العلم، والمتخصصين ذوي الخبرات الواسعة، فضلاً عن عامة القُراء. وسوف يجد القارئ من خلال (...)
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  10. The Return of Causal Powers?Andreas Hüttemann - forthcoming - In Stathis Psillos, Henrik Lagerlund & Benjamin Hill (eds.), Causal Powers in Science: Blending Historical and Conceptual Perspectives. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
    Powers, capacities and dispositions (in what follows I will use these terms synonymously) have become prominent in recent debates in metaphysics, philosophy of science and other areas of philosophy. In this paper I will analyse in some detail a well-known argument from scientific practice to the existence of powers/capacities/dispositions. According to this argument the practice of extrapolating scientific knowledge from one kind of situation to a different kind of situation requires a specific interpretation of laws of nature, namely as attributing (...)
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  11. The Difference Between Epistemic and Metaphysical Necessity.Martin Glazier - forthcoming - Synthese.
    Philosophers have observed that metaphysical necessity appears to be a true or real or genuine form of necessity while epistemic necessity does not. Similarly, natural necessity appears genuine while deontic necessity does not. But what is it for a form of necessity to be genuine? I defend an account of genuine necessity in explanatory terms. The genuine forms of necessity, I argue, are those that provide what I call necessitarian explanation. I discuss the relationship of necessitarian explanation to ground.
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  12. Nomothetic Explanation and Humeanism About Laws of Nature.Harjit Bhogal - forthcoming - Oxford Studies in Metaphysics.
    Humeanism about laws of nature — the view that the laws reduce to the Humean mosaic — is a popular view, but currently existing versions face powerful objections. The non-supervenience objection, the non-fundamentality objection and the explanatory circularity objection have all been thought to cause problems for the Humean. However, these objections share a guiding thought — they are all based on the idea that there is a certain kind of divergence between the practice of science and the metaphysical picture (...)
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  13. To Explain or to Predict: Which One is Mandatory?Robert W. P. Luk - 2018 - Foundations of Science 23 (2):411-414.
    Recently, Luk mentioned that scientific knowledge both explains and predicts. Do these two functions of scientific knowledge have equal significance, or is one of the two functions more important than the other? This commentary explains why prediction may be mandatory but explanation may be only desirable and optional.
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  14. Inferentialist-Expressivism for Explanatory Vocabulary.Jared A. Millson, Kareem Khalifa & Mark Risjord - 2018 - In Ondřej Beran, Vojtěch Kolman & Ladislav Koreň (eds.), From Rules to Meanings: New Essays in Inferentialism. Routledge.
    In this essay, we extend earlier inferentialist-expressivist treatments of traditional logical, semantic, modal, and representational vocabulary (Brandom 1994, 2008, 2015; Peregrin 2014) to explanatory vocabulary. From this perspective, Inference to the Best Explanation (IBE) appears to be an obvious starting point. In its simplest formulation, IBE has the form: A best explains why B, B; so A. It thereby captures one of the central inferential features of explanation. An inferentialist-expressivist treatment of “best explains” would treat it as a logical operator. (...)
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  15. Extended Mechanistic Explanations: Expanding the Current Mechanistic Conception to Include More Complex Biological Systems.Sarah M. Roe & Bert Baumgaertner - 2017 - Journal for General Philosophy of Science / Zeitschrift für Allgemeine Wissenschaftstheorie 48 (4):517-534.
    Mechanistic accounts of explanation have recently found popularity within philosophy of science. Presently, we introduce the idea of an extended mechanistic explanation, which makes explicit room for the role of environment in explanation. After delineating Craver and Bechtel’s account, we argue this suggestion is not sufficiently robust when we take seriously the mechanistic environment and modeling practices involved in studying contemporary complex biological systems. Our goal is to extend the already profitable mechanistic picture by pointing out the importance of the (...)
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  16. Metaphysics and the Philosophy of Science: New Essays.Matthew Slater & Zanja Yudell (eds.) - 2017 - New York, NY, USA: Oxford University Press.
    This volume of new essays, written by leading philosophers of science, explores a broadly methodological question: what role should metaphysics play in our philosophizing about science? The essays address this question both through ground-level investigations of particular issues in the metaphysics of science and by more general methodological investigations.
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  17. Bolzano and Kim on Grounding and Unification.Stefan Roski - forthcoming - Synthese:1-29.
    It is sometimes mentioned that Bernard Bolzano’s work on grounding anticipates many insights of the current debate on metaphysical grounding. The present paper discusses a certain part of Bolzano’s theory of grounding that has thus far not been discussed in the literature. This part does not so much anticipate what are nowadays common assumptions about grounding, but rather goes beyond them. Central to the discussion will be a thesis of Bolzano’s by which he tries to establish a connection between grounding (...)
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  18. Unification, the Answer to Resemblance Questions.Erik Weber & Merel Lefevere - 2017 - Synthese 194 (9):3501-3521.
    In the current literature on scientific explanation unification became unfashionable in favour of causal approaches. We want to bring unification back into the picture. In this paper we demonstrate that resemblance questions do occur in scientific practice and that they cannot be properly answered without unification. Our examples show that resemblance questions about particular facts demand what we call causal network unification, while resemblance questions about regularities require what we call mechanism unification. We clarify how these types of unification relate (...)
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  19. What is the Problem of Explanation and Modeling?Raphael van Riel - 2017 - Acta Analytica 32 (3):263-275.
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  20. Idealizations, Essential Self-Adjointness, and Minimal Model Explanation in the Aharonov–Bohm Effect.Shech Elay - forthcoming - Synthese:1-25.
    Two approaches to understanding the idealizations that arise in the Aharonov–Bohm effect are presented. It is argued that a common topological approach, which takes the non-simply connected electron configuration space to be an essential element in the explanation and understanding of the effect, is flawed. An alternative approach is outlined. Consequently, it is shown that the existence and uniqueness of self-adjoint extensions of symmetric operators in quantum mechanics have important implications for philosophical issues. Also, the alleged indispensable explanatory role of (...)
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  21. Critical Citizens or Paranoid Nutcases: On the Epistemology of Conspiracy Theories.Daniel Cohnitz - 2017 - Utrecht: Universiteit Utrecht, Faculteit Geesteswetenschappen.
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  22. Does the Counterfactual Theory of Explanation Apply to Non-Causal Explanations in Metaphysics?Alexander Reutlinger - 2017 - European Journal for Philosophy of Science 7 (2):239-256.
    In the recent philosophy of explanation, a growing attention to and discussion of non-causal explanations has emerged, as there seem to be compelling examples of non-causal explanations in the sciences, in pure mathematics, and in metaphysics. I defend the claim that the counterfactual theory of explanation captures the explanatory character of both non-causal scientific and metaphysical explanations. According to the CTE, scientific and metaphysical explanations are explanatory by virtue of revealing counterfactual dependencies between the explanandum and the explanans. I support (...)
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  23. Is Mathematics a Domain for Philosophers of Explanation?Erik Weber & Joachim Frans - 2017 - Journal for General Philosophy of Science / Zeitschrift für Allgemeine Wissenschaftstheorie 48 (1):125-142.
    In this paper we discuss three interrelated questions. First: is explanation in mathematics a topic that philosophers of mathematics can legitimately investigate? Second: are the specific aims that philosophers of mathematical explanation set themselves legitimate? Finally: are the models of explanation developed by philosophers of science useful tools for philosophers of mathematical explanation? We argue that the answer to all these questions is positive. Our views are completely opposite to the views that Mark Zelcer has put forward recently. Throughout this (...)
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  24. Do Renormalization Group Explanations Conform to the Commonality Strategy?Alexander Reutlinger - 2017 - Journal for General Philosophy of Science / Zeitschrift für Allgemeine Wissenschaftstheorie 48 (1):143-150.
    Renormalization group explanations account for the astonishing phenomenon that microscopically very different physical systems display the same macro-behavior when undergoing phase-transitions. Among philosophers, this explanandum phenomenon is often described as the occurrence of a particular kind of multiply realized macro-behavior. In several recent publications, Robert Batterman denies that RG explanations account for this explanandum phenomenon by following the commonality strategy, i.e. by identifying properties that microscopically very different physical systems have in common. Arguing against Batterman’s claim, I defend the view (...)
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  25. The Causal Metaphor Account of Metaphysical Explanation.Jonathan L. Shaheen - 2017 - Philosophical Studies 174 (3):553-578.
    This paper argues that the semantic facts about ‘because’ are best explained via a metaphorical treatment of metaphysical explanation that treats causal explanation as explanation par excellence. Along the way, it defends a commitment to a unified causal sense of ‘because’ and offers a proprietary explanation of grounding skepticism. With the causal metaphor account of metaphysical explanation on the table, an extended discussion of the relationship between conceptual structure and metaphysics ends with a suggestion that the semantic facts about ‘because’ (...)
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  26. Unificatory Explanation.Marco J. Nathan - 2017 - British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 68 (1).
    Philosophers have traditionally addressed the issue of scientific unification in terms of theoretical reduction. Reductive models, however, cannot explain the occurrence of unification in areas of science where successful reductions are hard to find. The goal of this essay is to analyse a concrete example of integration in biology—the developmental synthesis—and to generalize it into a model of scientific unification, according to which two fields are in the process of being unified when they become explanatorily relevant to each other. I (...)
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  27. Sobre causación y unificación según Wesley Salmón.León Olivé - 1990 - Critica 22 (66):115-129.
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  28. Causally Inefficient Knowledge and Functional Explanation.H. Grimen - 1994 - Social Science Information 33 (1):117-127.
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  29. Deductive-Nomological Vs. Causal-Mechanistic Explanation: Relative Strengths and Weaknesses in Anthropological Explanation.Kenneth Long - unknown
    An examination of the comparative strengths and weaknesses of Carl Hempel's deductive-nomological approach and Wesley Salmon's causal mechanical approache to explanation within the context of anthropological research. Co-authored with Lawrence Kuznar.
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  30. Can Interventions Rescue Glennan’s Mechanistic Account of Causality?Lorenzo Casini - 2016 - British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 67 (4):1155-1183.
    Glennan appeals to interventions to solve the ontological and explanatory regresses that threaten his mechanistic account of causality . I argue that Glennan’s manoeuvre fails. The appeal to interventions is not able to address the ontological regress, and it blocks the explanatory regress only at the cost of making the account inapplicable to non-modular mechanisms. I offer a solution to the explanatory regress that makes use of dynamic Bayesian networks. My argument is illustrated by a case study from systems biology, (...)
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  31. Explanation. [REVIEW]Luis Angel Pérez Miranda - 1994 - Theoria: Revista de Teoría, Historia y Fundamentos de la Ciencia 9 (2):226-228.
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  32. Ignorance and Semantic Tableaux: Aliseda on Abduction.John Woods - 2007 - Theoria: Revista de Teoría, Historia y Fundamentos de la Ciencia 22 (3):305-318.
    This is an examination of similarities and differences between two recent models of abductive reasoning. The one is developed in Atocha Aliseda’s Abductive Reasoning: Logical Investigations into the Processes of Discovery and Evaluation. The other is advanced by Dov Gabbay and the present author in their The Reach of Abduction: Insight and Trial. A principal difference between the two approaches is that in the Gabbay-Woods model, but not in the Aliseda model, abductive inference is ignorance-preserving. A further differ-ence is that (...)
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  33. Structural Rules for Abduction.Ilkka Niiniluoto - 2007 - Theoria: Revista de Teoría, Historia y Fundamentos de la Ciencia 22 (3):325-329.
    Atocha Aliseda’s Abductive Reasoning gives a structural characterization of the “forward” explana-tory reasoning from a theory to observational data. This paper asks whether there are any interesting structural rules for the “backward” abductive reasoning from observations to explanatory theories. Ignoring statistical cases, a partial explication of abduction is converse deductive explanation: h is abducible from e iff h deductively explains e. This relation of abducibility trivially satisfies Converse Entailment, but it does not generally satisfy Converse Consequence, since deductive explanation is (...)
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  34. Abductive Reasoning: Challenges Ahead.Atocha Aliseda - 2007 - Theoria: Revista de Teoría, Historia y Fundamentos de la Ciencia 22 (3):261-270.
    The motivation behind the collection of papers presented in this THEORIA forum on Abductive reasoning is my book Abductive Reasoning: Logical Investigations into the Processes of Discovery and Explanation. These contributions raise fundamental questions. One of them concerns the conjectural character of abduction. The choice of a logical framework for abduction is also discussed in detail, both its inferential aspect and search strategies. Abduction is also analyzed as inference to the best explanation, as well as a process of epistemic change, (...)
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  35. Logic and Abduction: Cognitive Externalizations in Demonstrative Environments.Lorenzo Magnani - 2007 - Theoria: Revista de Teoría, Historia y Fundamentos de la Ciencia 22 (3):275-284.
    In her book Abductive Reasoning Atocha Aliseda stresses the attention to the logical models of abduction, centering on the semantic tableaux as a method for extending and improving both the whole cognitive/philosophical view on it and on other more restricted logical approaches. I will provide further insight on two aspects. The first is re-lated to the importance of increasing logical knowledge on abduction: Aliseda clearly shows how the logical study on abduction in turn helps us to extend and modernize the (...)
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  36. Depth. An Account of Scientific Explanations. [REVIEW]Federica Russo - 2011 - Theoria: Revista de Teoría, Historia y Fundamentos de la Ciencia 26 (2):261-263.
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  37. Knowing the Structure of Nature. Essays on Realism and Explanation. [REVIEW]Andrés Rivadulla - 2009 - Theoria: Revista de Teoría, Historia y Fundamentos de la Ciencia 24 (3):361-365.
  38. The Nature of Explanation.Kenneth Clark - 1967
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  39. Reconciling New Mechanism and Psychological Explanation: A Pragmatic Approach.Michael De Vivo - unknown
    Recently, Gualtiero Piccinini and Carl Craver have argued that functional analyses in psychology lack explanatory autonomy from explanations in neuroscience. In this thesis I argue against this claim by motivating and defending a pragmatic-epistemic conception of autonomous psychological explanation. I argue that this conception of autonomy need not require that functional analyses be distinct in kind from neural-mechanistic explanations. I use the framework of Bas van Fraassen’s Pragmatic Theory of Explanation to show that explanations in psychology and neuroscience can be (...)
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  40. How Norms Make Causes.Maria Kronfeldner - 2014 - International Journal of Epidemiology 43:1707–1713.
    This paper is on the problem of causal selection and comments on Collingwood's classic paper "The so-called idea of causation". It discusses the relevance of Collingwood’s control principle in contemporary life sciences and defends that it is not the ability to control, but the willingness to control that often biases us towards some rather than other causes of a phenomenon. Willingness to control is certainly only one principle that influences causal selection, but it is an important one. It shows how (...)
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  41. Developing a Rhetorical Account of Explanation. [REVIEW]A. C. Love - 2015 - CHOICE 52 (8):4168.
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  42. How Are Models and Explanations Related?Yasha Rohwer & Collin Rice - 2016 - Erkenntnis 81 (5):1127-1148.
    Within the modeling literature, there is often an implicit assumption about the relationship between a given model and a scientific explanation. The goal of this article is to provide a unified framework with which to analyze the myriad relationships between a model and an explanation. Our framework distinguishes two fundamental kinds of relationships. The first is metaphysical, where the model is identified as an explanation or as a partial explanation. The second is epistemological, where the model produces understanding that is (...)
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  43. The Nature of Explanation.Paul Horwich & Peter Achinstein - 1985 - Philosophical Review 94 (4):583.
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  44. Philosophical Explanations.Alvin I. Goldman & Robert Nozick - 1983 - Philosophical Review 92 (1):81.
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  45. Law and Explanation: An Essay in the Philosophy of Science.Philip L. Quinn & Peter Achinstein - 1974 - Philosophical Review 83 (1):135.
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  46. Sensationalism and Scientific Explanation.Michael Scriven & Peter Alexander - 1966 - Philosophical Review 75 (3):412.
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  47. The Structure of Science: Problems in the Logic of Scientific Explanation.Charles E. Caton & Ernest Nagel - 1964 - Philosophical Review 73 (1):104.
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  48. Scientific Explanation, Space, and Time: Minnesota Studies in the Philosophy of Science.Peter Achinstein, Herbert Feigl & Grover Maxwell - 1964 - Philosophical Review 73 (1):106.
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  49. The Nature of Explanation.V. F. Lenzen & K. J. W. Craik - 1944 - Philosophical Review 53 (5):503.
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  50. Mechanistic Information as Evidence in Decision-Oriented Science.José Luis Luján, Oliver Todt & Juan Bautista Bengoetxea - 2016 - Journal for General Philosophy of Science / Zeitschrift für Allgemeine Wissenschaftstheorie 47 (2):293-306.
    Mechanistic information is used in the field of risk assessment in order to clarify two controversial methodological issues, the selection of inference guides and the definition of standards of evidence. In this paper we present an analysis of the concept of mechanistic information in risk assessment by recurring to previous philosophical analyses of mechanistic explanation. Our conclusion is that the conceptual analysis of mechanistic explanation facilitates a better characterization of the concept of mechanistic information. However, it also shows that the (...)
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