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  1. Unifying the Essential Concepts of Biological Networks: Biological Insights and Philosophical Foundations.Daniel Kostic, Claus Hilgetag & Marc Tittgemeyer - forthcoming - Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences.
    Over the last decades, network-based approaches have become highly popular in diverse fields of biology, including neuroscience, ecology, molecular biology and genetics. While these approaches continue to grow very rapidly, some of their conceptual and methodological aspects still require a programmatic foundation. This challenge particularly concerns the question of whether a generalized account of explanatory, organisational and descriptive levels of networks can be applied universally across biological sciences. To this end, this highly interdisciplinary theme issue focuses on the definition, motivation (...)
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  2. Contrastivism and Non‐Contrastivism in Scientific Explanation.Yafeng Shan - 2019 - Philosophy Compass 14 (8):e12613.
    The nature of scientific explanation is controversial. Some maintain that all scientific explanations have to be contrastive in nature (contrastivism). However, others argue that no scientific explanation is genuinely contrastive (non-contrastivism). In addition, a compatibilist view has been recently devloped. It is argued that the debate between contrastivism and non-contrastivism is merely a linguistic dispute rather than a genuine disagreement on the nature of scientific explanation. Scientific explanations are both contrastive and non-contrastive in some sense (compatibilism). This paper examines the (...)
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  3. Mechanistic Explanation in Physics.Laura Felline - forthcoming - In Eleanor Knox & Alastair Wilson (eds.), Routledge Companion for the Philosophy of Physics. Routledge.
    The idea at the core of the New Mechanical account of explanation can be summarized in the claim that explaining means showing ‘how things work’. This simple motto hints at three basic features of Mechanistic Explanation (ME): ME is an explanation-how, that implies the description of the processes underlying the phenomenon to be explained and of the entities that engage in such processes. These three elements trace a fundamental contrast with the view inherited from Hume and later from strict logical (...)
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  4. Explanatory Value in Context: The Curious Case of Hotelling’s Location Model.Emrah Aydinonat & Emin Köksal - 2019 - European Journal of the History of Economic Thought 26 (5):1-32.
    There is a striking contrast between the significance of Harold Hotelling’s contribution to industrial economics and the fact that his location model was invalid, unrealistic and non-robust. It is difficult to make sense of the explanatory value of Hotelling’s model based on philosophical accounts that emphasize logical validity, representational adequacy, and robustness as determinants of explanatory value. However, these accounts are misleading because they overlook the context within which the explanatory value added of a model is apprehensible. We present Hotelling’s (...)
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  5. Emergence Without Limits: The Case of Phonons.Alexander Franklin & Eleanor Knox - 2018 - Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part B: Studies in History and Philosophy of Modern Physics 64:68-78.
    Recent discussions of emergence in physics have focussed on the use of limiting relations, and often particularly on singular or asymptotic limits. We discuss a putative example of emergence that does not fit into this narrative: the case of phonons. These quasi-particles have some claim to be emergent, not least because the way in which they relate to the underlying crystal is almost precisely analogous to the way in which quantum particles relate to the underlying quantum field theory. But there (...)
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  6. Horizontal Surgicality and Mechanistic Constitution.Michael Baumgartner, Lorenzo Casini & Beate Krickel - 2018 - Erkenntnis:1-14.
    While ideal interventions are acknowledged by many as valuable tools for the analysis of causation, recent discussions have shown that, since there are no ideal interventions on upper-level phenomena that non-reductively supervene on their underlying mechanisms, interventions cannot—contrary to a popular opinion—ground an informative analysis of constitution. This has led some to abandon the project of analyzing constitution in interventionist terms. By contrast, this paper defines the notion of a horizontally surgical intervention, and argues that, when combined with some innocuous (...)
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  7. Philosophy, Certainty and Semantic Stretch.Michaelis Michael - 2017 - Australasian Philosophical Review 1 (3):281-290.
    ABSTRACTLloyd encourages us to look anew at philosophy and science by using a comparative methodology, comparing the familiar Western form of philosophy, for example, with the forms found in ancient China. Taking lessons from comparative biology, this paper attempts to show that such comparison can only take place when we understand what we are looking at in the familiar case. The question of the centrality of the drive for certainty is addressed. Why has certainty been so attractive and what does (...)
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  8. Minimal Models and the Generalized Ontic Conception of Scientific Explanation.Mark Povich - 2018 - British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 69 (1):117-137.
    Batterman and Rice ([2014]) argue that minimal models possess explanatory power that cannot be captured by what they call ‘common features’ approaches to explanation. Minimal models are explanatory, according to Batterman and Rice, not in virtue of accurately representing relevant features, but in virtue of answering three questions that provide a ‘story about why large classes of features are irrelevant to the explanandum phenomenon’ ([2014], p. 356). In this article, I argue, first, that a method (the renormalization group) they propose (...)
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  9. Causality and Explanation in the Sciences.Bert Leuridan & Erik Weber - 2012 - Theoria : An International Journal for Theory, History and Fundations of Science 27 (2):133-136.
    Editors’ introduction to the special issue on the Causality and Explanation in the Sciences conference, held at the University of Ghent in September 2011.
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  10. Diversifying the Picture of Explanations in Biological Sciences: Ways of Combining Topology with Mechanisms.Philippe Huneman - 2018 - Synthese 195 (1):115-146.
    Besides mechanistic explanations of phenomena, which have been seriously investigated in the last decade, biology and ecology also include explanations that pinpoint specific mathematical properties as explanatory of the explanandum under focus. Among these structural explanations, one finds topological explanations, and recent science pervasively relies on them. This reliance is especially due to the necessity to model large sets of data with no practical possibility to track the proper activities of all the numerous entities. The paper first defines topological explanations (...)
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  11. Mechanistic and Topological Explanations: An Introduction.Daniel Kostić - 2018 - Synthese 195 (1).
    In the last 20 years or so, since the publication of a seminal paper by Watts and Strogatz :440–442, 1998), an interest in topological explanations has spread like a wild fire over many areas of science, e.g. ecology, evolutionary biology, medicine, and cognitive neuroscience. The topological approach is still very young by all standards, and even within special sciences it still doesn’t have a single methodological programme that is applicable across all areas of science. That is why this special issue (...)
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  12. It's a Matter of Principle: Scientific Explanation in Information‐Theoretic Reconstructions of Quantum Theory.Laura Felline - 2016 - Dialectica 70 (4):549-575.
    The aim of this paper is to explore the ways in which Axiomatic Reconstructions of Quantum Theory in terms of Information-Theoretic principles can contribute to explaining and understanding quantum phenomena, as well as to study their explanatory limitations. This is achieved in part by offering an account of the kind of explanation that axiomatic reconstructions of Quantum Theory provide, and re-evaluating the epistemic status of the program in light of this explanation. As illustrative case studies, I take Clifton's, Bub's and (...)
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  13. The Last Stand of the Covering-Law Theory: A Reply to Opp.Petri Ylikoski - 2013 - Social Science Information 52 (3):383-393.
    In his paper Karl-Dieter Opp heroically sets out to defend both the adequacy and socio- logical fruitfulness of the covering-law account of explanation (the HO scheme). The attempt is bold, as he is not only defending the HO scheme as a theory of explanation but also as a scheme for finding and establishing causal relationships. In this reply I argue that the defense is not successful; quite the contrary, it clearly demonstrates why mecha- nism-based reasoning is important in the social (...)
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  14. Enriching the Strategies for Creating Mechanistic Explanations in Biology.William Bechtel - unknown
    To demonstrate that a proposed mechanism could explain a phenomenon, biologists must recompose the mechanism. Traditionally they have relied on mentally rehearsing the operations, often aided by a mechanism diagram. Such a strategy has reached its limits in contemporary biology. For example, through mental rehearsal alone researchers cannot determine whether a feedback mechanism will generate sustained oscillation. Accordingly, mechanistic inclined biologists are enriching their strategies, relying on computational simulation and graph-theoretical analyses of networks. The limitations of traditional approaches and the (...)
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  15. Mechanists Must Be Holists Too! Perspectives From Circadian Biology.William Bechtel - 2016 - Journal of the History of Biology 49 (4):705-731.
    The pursuit of mechanistic explanations in biology has produced a great deal of knowledge about the parts, operations, and organization of mechanisms taken to be responsible for biological phenomena. Holist critics have often raised important criticisms of proposed mechanistic explanations, but until recently holists have not had alternative research strategies through which to advance explanations. This paper argues both that the results of mechanistic strategies has forced mechanists to confront ways in which whole systems affect their components and that new (...)
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  16. The Applicability of Mathematics to Physical Modality.Nora Berenstain - 2017 - Synthese 194 (9):3361-3377.
    This paper argues that scientific realism commits us to a metaphysical determination relation between the mathematical entities that are indispensible to scientific explanation and the modal structure of the empirical phenomena those entities explain. The argument presupposes that scientific realism commits us to the indispensability argument. The viewpresented here is that the indispensability of mathematics commits us not only to the existence of mathematical structures and entities but to a metaphysical determination relation between those entities and the modal structure of (...)
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  17. Explaining Explanation.David-Hillel Ruben - 1990 - Routledge.
    This book introduces readers to the topic of explanation. The insights of Plato, Aristotle, J.S. Mill and Carl Hempel are examined, and are used to argue against the view that explanation is merely a problem for the philosophy of science. Having established its importance for understanding knowledge in general, the book concludes with a bold and original explanation of explanation.
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  18. Models and Inferences in Science.Emiliano Ippoliti, Fabio Sterpetti & Thomas Nickles (eds.) - 2016 - Springer.
    The book answers long-standing questions on scientific modeling and inference across multiple perspectives and disciplines, including logic, mathematics, physics and medicine. The different chapters cover a variety of issues, such as the role models play in scientific practice; the way science shapes our concept of models; ways of modeling the pursuit of scientific knowledge; the relationship between our concept of models and our concept of science. The book also discusses models and scientific explanations; models in the semantic view of theories; (...)
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  19. Measuring Causal Specificity.Paul E. Griffiths, Arnaud Pocheville, Brett Calcott, Karola Stotz, Hyunju Kim & Rob Knight - 2015 - Philosophy of Science 82 (4):529-555.
    Several authors have argued that causes differ in the degree to which they are ‘specific’ to their effects. Woodward has used this idea to enrich his influential interventionist theory of causal explanation. Here we propose a way to measure causal specificity using tools from information theory. We show that the specificity of a causal variable is not well-defined without a probability distribution over the states of that variable. We demonstrate the tractability and interest of our proposed measure by measuring the (...)
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  20. Explanation in Neurobiology: An Interventionist Perspective.James Woodward - unknown
    This paper employs an interventionist framework to elucidate some issues having to do with explanation in neurobiology and with the differences between mechanistic and non-mechanistic explanations.
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  21. Constraints on Localization and Decomposition as Explanatory Strategies in the Biological Sciences.Michael Silberstein & Tony Chemero - unknown
    Several articles have recently appeared arguing that there really are no viable alternatives to mechanistic explanation in the biological sciences. This claim is meant to hold both in principle and in practice. The basic claim is that any explanation of a particular feature of a biological system, including dynamical explanations, must ultimately be grounded in mechanistic explanation. There are several variations on this theme, some stronger and some weaker. In order to avoid equivocation and miscommunication, in section 1 we will (...)
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  22. Regularity Constitution and the Location of Mechanistic Levels.Jens Harbecke - 2015 - Foundations of Science 20 (3):323-338.
    This paper discusses the role of levels and level-bound theoretical terms in neurobiological explanations under the presupposition of a regularity theory of constitution. After presenting the definitions for the constitution relation and the notion of a mechanistic level in the sense of the regularity theory, the paper develops a set of inference rules that allow to determine whether two mechanisms referred to by one or more accepted explanations belong to the same level, or to different levels. The rules are characterized (...)
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  23. Reconciling Ontic and Epistemic Constraints on Mechanistic Explanation, Epistemically.Dingmar van Eck - 2015 - Axiomathes 25 (1):5-22.
    In this paper I address the current debate on ontic versus epistemic conceptualizations of mechanistic explanation in the mechanisms literature. Illari recently argued that good explanations are subject to both ontic and epistemic constraints: they must describe mechanisms in the world in such fashion that they provide understanding of their workings. Elaborating upon Illari’s ‘integration’ account, I argue that causal role function discovery of mechanisms and their components is an epistemic prerequisite for achieving these two aims. This analysis extends Illari’s (...)
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  24. Prisoner's Dilemma Doesn't Explain Much.Robert Northcott & Anna Alexandrova - 2015 - In Martin Peterson (ed.), The Prisoner’s Dilemma. Classic philosophical arguments. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. pp. 64-84.
    We make the case that the Prisoner’s Dilemma, notwithstanding its fame and the quantity of intellectual resources devoted to it, has largely failed to explain any phenomena of social scientific or biological interest. In the heart of the paper we examine in detail a famous purported example of Prisoner’s Dilemma empirical success, namely Axelrod’s analysis of WWI trench warfare, and argue that this success is greatly overstated. Further, we explain why this negative verdict is likely true generally and not just (...)
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  25. Mechanistic Science and Metaphysical Romance.Jacques Loeb - 1915 - Philosophical Review 24:570.
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  26. Vagueness and Mechanistic Explanation in Neuroscience.Philipp Haueis - 2013 - Croatian Journal of Philosophy 13 (2):251-275.
    The problem of fuzzy boundaries when delineating cortical areas is widely known in human brain mapping and its adjacent subdisciplines . Yet, a conceptual framework for understanding indeterminacy in neuroscience is missing, and there has been no discussion in the philosophy of neuroscience whether indeterminacy poses an issue for good neuroscientific explanations. My paper addresses both these issues by applying philosophical theories of vagueness to three levels of neuroscientific research, namely to cytoarchitectonic studies at the neuron level intra-areal neuronalinteraction measured (...)
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  27. Modeling Systems-Level Dynamics: Understanding Without Mechanistic Explanation in Integrative Systems Biology.Miles MacLeod & Nancy J. Nersessian - 2015 - Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part C: Studies in History and Philosophy of Biological and Biomedical Sciences 49:1-11.
  28. Introduction to Finale Debate: Holistic Approach in Biology and Neuroscience.Javier Monserrat - 2011 - Pensamiento 67 (254):733-743.
  29. The Mechanistic Foundations of Economic Analysis.John Moorhouse - 1978 - Reason Papers 4:49-67.
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  30. Exposition and Critique of the Conceptions of Eddington Concerning the Philosophy of Physical Science. [REVIEW]P. D. M. A. - 1961 - Review of Metaphysics 15 (2):347-347.
    The substance and development of Eddington's "scientific epistemology" are presented in close parallelism with the philosophy of Kant. The author argues that Kant was far more successful in displaying the philosophical structure of Newtonian physics than Eddington is in showing the philosophy behind quantum mechanics and relativity.--A. P. D. M.
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  31. The Chemical Origin of Life. [REVIEW]R. H. T. - 1965 - Review of Metaphysics 18 (3):589-590.
    This monograph offers a crisp, comprehensive summary of the discoveries to date in the field of pre-biological evolution. Supported by extensive references to recent research and quite technical in treatment, the work is comprehensible to any reader with a beginner's knowledge of organic chemistry because the author is careful to focus his discussion around three hypothetical stages of abiotic evolution. The author's argument that the histories of the universe, of the earth, of nature and of man form a continuous evolutionary (...)
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  32. Mechanisms for Robust Cognition.Matthew M. Walsh & Kevin A. Gluck - 2015 - Cognitive Science 39 (6):1131-1171.
    To function well in an unpredictable environment using unreliable components, a system must have a high degree of robustness. Robustness is fundamental to biological systems and is an objective in the design of engineered systems such as airplane engines and buildings. Cognitive systems, like biological and engineered systems, exist within variable environments. This raises the question, how do cognitive systems achieve similarly high degrees of robustness? The aim of this study was to identify a set of mechanisms that enhance robustness (...)
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  33. Functional Analysis and Mechanistic Explanation.David Barrett - 2014 - Synthese 191 (12):2695-2714.
    Piccinini and Craver (Synthese 183:283–311, 2011) argue for the surprising view that psychological explanation, properly understood, is a species of mechanistic explanation. This contrasts with the ‘received view’ (due, primarily, to Cummins and Fodor) which maintains a sharp distinction between psychological explanation and mechanistic explanation. The former is typically construed as functional analysis, the analysis of some psychological capacity into an organized series of subcapacities without specifying any of the structural features that underlie the explanandum capacity. The latter idea, of (...)
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  34. Questioning Structurism as a New Standard for Social Scientific Explanations.Jeroen Van Bouwel - 2004 - Graduate Journal of Social Science 1 (2):204-226.
    As the literature on Critical Realism in the social sciences is growing, it is about time to analyse whether a new, acceptable standard for social scientific explanations is being introduced. In order to do so, I will discuss the work of Christopher Lloyd, who analysed contributions of social scientists that rely on (what he called) a structurist ontology and a structurist methodology, and advocated a third option in the methodological debate between individualism and holism. I will suggest modifications to three (...)
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  35. Pluralists About Pluralism? Versions of Explanatory Pluralism in Psychiatry.Jeroen Van Bouwel - 2014 - In M. C. Galavotti, D. Dieks, W. J. Gonzalez, S. Hartmann, Th Uebel & M. Weber (eds.), New Directions in Philosophy of Science (The Philosophy of Science in a European Perspective Series). Springer. pp. 105-119.
    In this contribution, I comment on Raffaella Campaner’s defense of explanatory pluralism in psychiatry (in this volume). In her paper, Campaner focuses primarily on explanatory pluralism in contrast to explanatory reductionism. Furthermore, she distinguishes between pluralists who consider pluralism to be a temporary state on the one hand and pluralists who consider it to be a persisting state on the other hand. I suggest that it would be helpful to distinguish more than those two versions of pluralism – different understandings (...)
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  36. Understanding with Theoretical Models.Petri Ylikoski & N. Emrah Aydinonat - 2014 - Journal of Economic Methodology 21 (1):19-36.
    This paper discusses the epistemic import of highly abstract and simplified theoretical models using Thomas Schelling’s checkerboard model as an example. We argue that the epistemic contribution of theoretical models can be better understood in the context of a cluster of models relevant to the explanatory task at hand. The central claim of the paper is that theoretical models make better sense in the context of a menu of possible explanations. In order to justify this claim, we introduce a distinction (...)
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  37. Law and Explanation in Biology: Invariance is the Kind of Stability.That Matters - 2001 - Philosophy of Science 68 (1):1-20.
  38. Mechanistic Explanations and Structure-Determined Systems Maturana and the Human Sciences.Paula Burghgraeve - 1992 - In G. van der Vijve (ed.), New Perspectives on Cybernetics. pp. 207--217.
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  39. Functional Explanations of Memory.Darryl Bruce - 1989 - In L. Poon, David C. Rubin & B. Wilson (eds.), Everyday Cognition in Adulthood and Late Life. Cambridge University Press. pp. 44--58.
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  40. What Mechanisms Can’T Do: Explanatory Frameworks and the Function of the P53 Gene in Molecular Oncology.Alessandro Blasimme, Paolo Maugeri & Pierre-Luc Germain - 2013 - Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part C: Studies in History and Philosophy of Biological and Biomedical Sciences 44 (3):374-384.
    What has been called the new mechanistic philosophy conceives of mechanisms as the main providers of biological explanation. We draw on the characterization of the p53 gene in molecular oncology, to show that explaining a biological phenomenon implies instead a dynamic interaction between the mechanistic level—rendered at the appropriate degree of ontological resolution—and far more general explanatory tools that perform a fundamental epistemic role in the provision of biological explanations. We call such tools “explanatory frameworks”. They are called frameworks to (...)
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  41. Explanation in the Social Sciences: Singular Explanation and the Social Sciences.David-Hillel Ruben - 1990 - Royal Institute of Philosophy Supplement 27:95-117.
    Are explanations in the social sciences fundamentally different from explanations in the natural sciences? Many philosophers think that they are, and I call such philosophers ‘difference theorists’. Many difference theorists locate that difference in the alleged fact that only in the natural sciences does explanation essentially include laws.
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  42. Structural Explanation From Special Relativity to Quantum Information Theory.Laura Felline - 2010 - In M. D'Agostino, G. Giorello & F. Laudisa (eds.), SILFS New Essays in Logic and Philosophy of Science. College Pubblications.
  43. Structures, Fictions, and the Explanatory Epistemology of Mathematics in Science: Christopher Pincock: Mathematics and Scientific Representation. New York: Oxford University Press, 2012, 330pp, $65.00 HB.Mark Balaguer, Elaine Landry, Sorin Bangu & Christopher Pincock - 2013 - Metascience 22 (2):247-273.
  44. Comments on W. Bechtel.Denis Forest - unknown
    The first part of this paper deals with the relations between mechanistic explanation and reduction. It is argued that there is no insuperable conflict between the two, but that the mechanistic framework adds requirements that are not acknowledged in the model of property reduction. The second part concerns the relations between organization and environmental factors. Internal organization may be so tightly linked to external context that both have to be considered together.
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  45. Une conception néo-poppérienne de l’explication en sciences sociales et ses difficultés internes.Philippe Mongin - 2012 - Dialogue 51 (3):503-515.
    This article discusses the rationality principle, especially in Popper's version, on the occasion of a commentary of Maurice Lagueux's book, Rationality and Explanation in Economics (2010).
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  46. Mechanisms: What Are They Evidence for in Evidence-Based Medicine?Holly Andersen - 2012 - Journal of Evaluation in Clinical Practice 18 (5):992-999.
    Even though the evidence‐based medicine movement (EBM) labels mechanisms a low quality form of evidence, consideration of the mechanisms on which medicine relies, and the distinct roles that mechanisms might play in clinical practice, offers a number of insights into EBM itself. In this paper, I examine the connections between EBM and mechanisms from several angles. I diagnose what went wrong in two examples where mechanistic reasoning failed to generate accurate predictions for how a dysfunctional mechanism would respond to intervention. (...)
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  47. The Rationality Principle Idealized.Boaz Miller - 2012 - Social Epistemology 26 (1):3-30.
    According to Popper's rationality principle, agents act in the most adequate way according to the objective situation. I propose a new interpretation of the rationality principle as consisting of an idealization and two abstractions. Based on this new interpretation, I critically discuss the privileged status that Popper ascribes to it as an integral part of all social scientific models. I argue that as an idealization, the rationality principle may play an important role in the social sciences, but it also has (...)
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  48. Mattering and Mechanism: Must a Mechanistic Universe Be Depressing?Heath White - 2011 - Ratio 24 (3):326-339.
    There is an intuition to the effect that, if human actions are explicable in scientific terms – that is, if mechanism holds – then our lives and actions do not matter. “Mattering” depends on successful intentional explanations of human actions. The intuition springs from an intuitive analogy between manipulation and mechanism: just as a manipulated agent's actions are not successfully explained in intentional terms, neither are the actions of a mechanistic agent. I explore ways to avoid the conclusion of this (...)
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  49. Indispensability Arguments in Favour of Reductive Explanations.Jeroen Van Bouwel, Erik Weber & Leen De Vreese - 2011 - Journal for General Philosophy of Science / Zeitschrift für Allgemeine Wissenschaftstheorie 42 (1):33-46.
    Instances of explanatory reduction are often advocated on metaphysical grounds; given that the only real things in the world are subatomic particles and their interaction, we have to try to explain everything in terms of the laws of physics. In this paper, we show that explanatory reduction cannot be defended on metaphysical grounds. Nevertheless, indispensability arguments for reductive explanations can be developed, taking into account actual scientific practice and the role of epistemic interests. Reductive explanations might be indispensable to address (...)
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  50. Perceiving Design.Del Ratzsch - 2003 - In Neil A. Manson (ed.), God and Design: The Teleological Argument and Modern Science. Routledge.
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