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  1. added 2019-03-08
    Explanatory Abstraction and the Goldilocks Problem: Interventionism Gets Things Just Right.Thomas Blanchard - forthcoming - British Journal for the Philosophy of Science.
    Theories of explanation need to account for a puzzling feature of our explanatory practices: the fact that we prefer explanations that are relatively abstract but only moderately so. Contra Franklin-Hall ([2016]), I argue that the interventionist account of explanation provides a natural and elegant explanation of this fact. By striking the right balance between specificity and generality, moderately abstract explanations optimally subserve what interventionists regard as the goal of explanation, namely identifying possible interventions that would have changed the explanandum.
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  2. added 2019-01-24
    Coincidences and the Grain of Explanation.Harjit Bhogal - forthcoming - Philosophy and Phenomenological Research.
    I give an account of what makes an event a coincidence. -/- I start by critically discussing a couple of other approaches to the notion of coincidence -- particularly that of Lando (2017) -- before developing my own view. The central idea of my view is that the correct understanding of coincidences is closely related to our understanding of the correct 'level' or 'grain' of explanation. Coincidences have a kind of explanatory deficiency — if they did not have this deficiency (...)
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  3. added 2018-11-14
    String Theory, Non-Empirical Theory Assessment, and the Context of Pursuit.Frank Cabrera - 2018 - Synthese:1-29.
    In this paper, I offer an analysis of the radical disagreement over the adequacy of string theory. The prominence of string theory despite its notorious lack of empirical support is sometimes explained as a troubling case of science gone awry, driven largely by sociological mechanisms such as groupthink (e.g. Smolin 2006). Others, such as Dawid (2013), explain the controversy by positing a methodological revolution of sorts, according to which string theorists have quietly turned to nonempirical methods of theory assessment given (...)
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  4. added 2018-06-13
    The Diversity of Models as a Means to Better Explanations in Economics.Emrah Aydinonat - forthcoming - Journal of Economic Methodology 25.
    In Economics Rules, Dani Rodrik (2015) argues that what makes economics powerful despite the limitations of each and every model is its diversity of models. Rodrik suggests that the diversity of models in economics improves its explanatory capacities, but he does not fully explain how. I offer a clearer picture of how models relate to explanations of particular economic facts or events, and suggest that the diversity of models is a means to better economic explanations.
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  5. added 2017-10-08
    Evolutionary Debunking Arguments and Our Shared Hatred of Pain.Ben Bramble - 2017 - Journal of Ethics and Social Philosophy 12 (1):94-101.
    This article responds to an argument from Katarzyna de Ladari-Radek and Peter Singer in their article, "The Objectivity of Ethics and the Unity of Practical Reason.".
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  6. added 2016-12-08
    The Illusion of Depth of Understanding in Science.Petri Ylikoski - 2009 - In Henk De Regt, Sabina Leonelli & Kai Eigner (eds.), Scientific Understanding: Philosophical Perspectives. University of Pittsburgh Press. pp. 100--119.
    In this chapter I will employ a well-known scientific research heuristic that studies how something works by focusing on circumstances in which it does not work. Rather than trying to describe what scientific understanding would ideally look like, I will try to learn something about it by observing mundane cases where understanding is partly illusory. My main thesis is that scientists are prone to the illusion of depth of understanding (IDU), and as a consequence they sometimes overestimate the detail, coherence, (...)
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  7. added 2016-10-17
    How to Define Levels of Explanation and Evaluate Their Indispensability.Christopher Clarke - 2017 - Synthese 194 (6).
    Some explanations in social science, psychology and biology belong to a higher level than other explanations. And higher explanations possess the virtue of abstracting away from the details of lower explanations, many philosophers argue. As a result, these higher explanations are irreplaceable. And this suggests that there are genuine higher laws or patterns involving social, psychological and biological states. I show that this ‘abstractness argument’ is really an argument schema, not a single argument. This is because the argument uses the (...)
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  8. added 2016-03-11
    Explanatory Value and Probabilistic Reasoning: An Empirical Study.Matteo Colombo, Marie Postma & Jan Sprenger - 2016 - Proceedings of the Cognitive Science Society.
    The relation between probabilistic and explanatory reasoning is a classical topic in philosophy of science. Most philosophical analyses are concerned with the compatibility of Inference to the Best Explanation with probabilistic, Bayesian inference, and the impact of explanatory considerations on the assignment of subjective probabilities. This paper reverses the question and asks how causal and explanatory considerations are affected by probabilistic information. We investigate how probabilistic information determines the explanatory value of a hypothesis, and in which sense folk explanatory practice (...)
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  9. added 2014-05-12
    Multi-Level Selection and the Explanatory Value of Mathematical Decompositions.Christopher Clarke - 2016 - British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 67 (4):1025-1055.
    Do multi-level selection explanations of the evolution of social traits deepen the understanding provided by single-level explanations? Central to the former is a mathematical theorem, the multi-level Price decomposition. I build a framework through which to understand the explanatory role of such non-empirical decompositions in scientific practice. Applying this general framework to the present case places two tasks on the agenda. The first task is to distinguish the various ways of suppressing within-collective variation in fitness, and moreover to evaluate their (...)
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  10. added 2014-03-23
    A Fuzzy Measure for Explanatory Coherence.Daniel Schoch - 2000 - Synthese 122 (3):291-311.
    In a series of articles, Paul Thagard has developed a connectionist''s modelfor the evaluation of explanatory coherence for competing systems ofhypotheses. He has successfully applied it to various examples from thehistory of science and common language reasoning. However, I will argue thathis formalism does not adequately represent explanatory relations betweenmore than two propositions.In this paper, I develop a generalization of Thagard''s approach. It is notsubject to the connectionist paradigm of neural nets, but is based on fuzzylogic: Explanatory coherence increases with (...)
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  11. added 2013-08-06
    The Problem of Disjunctive Explanations.Brad Weslake - manuscript
    I present a problem for theories of explanation, concerning explanations involving disjunctive properties. The problem is particular acute for the explanatory non-fundamentalist, according to whom non-fundamental scientific explanations are sometimes superior to fundamental physical explanations. I criticise solutions to the problem due to Woodward, Strevens and Sober, and Lewis, and then defend a solution inspired by an account of non-fundamental laws recently defended by Callender and Cohen.
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  12. added 2013-03-07
    Reasoning Without the Principle of Sufficient Reason.Shieva Kleinschmidt - 2013 - In Tyron Goldschmidt (ed.), The Philosophy of Existence: Why Is There Something Rather Than Nothing? Routledge. pp. 64-79.
    According to Principles of Sufficient Reason, every truth (in some relevant group) has an explanation. One of the most popular defenses of Principles of Sufficient Reason has been the presupposition of reason defense, which takes endorsement of the defended PSR to play a crucial role in our theory selection. According to recent presentations of this defense, our method of theory selection often depends on the assumption that, if a given proposition is true, then it has an explanation, and this will (...)
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  13. added 2012-10-23
    Dalton’s Chemical Atoms Versus Duhem’s Chemical Equivalents.Karen R. Zwier - 2011 - Philosophy of Science 78 (5):842-853.
    Paul Needham has claimed in several recent papers that Dalton’s chemical atomism was not explanatory. I respond to his criticism of Dalton by arguing that explanation admits of degrees and that under a view that allows for a spectrum of explanatory value, it is possible to see ample worth in Dalton’s atomistic explanations. Furthermore, I argue that even Duhem, who rejected atomism, acknowledged the explanatory worth of Dalton’s atomism.
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  14. added 2012-10-04
    Comparing Probabilistic Measures of Explanatory Power.Jonah N. Schupbach - 2011 - Philosophy of Science 78 (5):813-829.
    Recently, in attempting to account for explanatory reasoning in probabilistic terms, Bayesians have proposed several measures of the degree to which a hypothesis explains a given set of facts. These candidate measures of "explanatory power" are shown to have interesting normative interpretations and consequences. What has not yet been investigated, however, is whether any of these measures are also descriptive of people’s actual explanatory judgments. Here, I present my own experimental work investigating this question. I argue that one measure in (...)
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  15. added 2012-07-18
    Statistical Mechanical Imperialism.Brad Weslake - forthcoming - In Alastair Wilson (ed.), Chance and Temporal Asymmetry. Oxford University Press.
    I argue against the claim, advanced by David Albert and Barry Loewer, that all non-fundamental laws can be derived from those required to underwrite the second law of thermodynamics.
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  16. added 2012-07-08
    Scientific Explanation Between Principle and Constructive Theories.Laura Felline - 2011 - Philosophy of Science 78 (5):989-1000.
    The aim of this paper is to analyse the role that the distinction between principle and constructive theories have in the question of the explanatory power of Special Relativity. We show how the distinction breaks down at the explanatory level. We assess Harvey Brown’s (2005) claim that, as a principle theory, Special Relativity lacks of explanatory power and criticize it, as, we argue, based upon an unrealistic picture of the kind of explanations provided by principle (and constructive) theories. Finally, we (...)
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  17. added 2011-11-21
    Proportionality, Contrast and Explanation.Brad Weslake - 2013 - Australasian Journal of Philosophy 91 (4):785-797.
    If counterfactual dependence is sufficient for causation and if omissions can be causes, then all events have many more causes than common sense tends to recognize. This problem is standardly addressed by appeal to pragmatics. However, Carolina Sartorio [2010] has recently raised what I shall argue is a more interesting problem concerning omissions for counterfactual theories of causation—more interesting because it demands a more subtle pragmatic solution. I discuss the relationship between the idea that causes are proportional to their effects, (...)
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  18. added 2011-10-28
    The Devil in the Details: Asymptotic Reasoning in Explanation, Reduction, and Emergence.Robert W. Batterman - 2001 - Oxford University Press.
    Robert Batterman examines a form of scientific reasoning called asymptotic reasoning, arguing that it has important consequences for our understanding of the scientific process as a whole. He maintains that asymptotic reasoning is essential for explaining what physicists call universal behavior. With clarity and rigor, he simplifies complex questions about universal behavior, demonstrating a profound understanding of the underlying structures that ground them. This book introduces a valuable new method that is certain to fill explanatory gaps across disciplines.
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  19. added 2011-07-08
    Abstraction and Depth in Scientific Explanation. [REVIEW]Marc Lange - 2012 - Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 84 (2):483-491.
  20. added 2011-07-08
    Levels of Explanation Reconceived.Angela Potochnik - 2010 - Philosophy of Science 77 (1):59-72.
    A common argument against explanatory reductionism is that higher‐level explanations are sometimes or always preferable because they are more general than reductive explanations. Here I challenge two basic assumptions that are needed for that argument to succeed. It cannot be assumed that higher‐level explanations are more general than their lower‐level alternatives or that higher‐level explanations are general in the right way to be explanatory. I suggest a novel form of pluralism regarding levels of explanation, according to which explanations at different (...)
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  21. added 2011-07-08
    Explanatory Independence and Epistemic Interdependence: A Case Study of the Optimality Approach.Angela Potochnik - 2010 - British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 61 (1):213-233.
    The value of optimality modeling has long been a source of contention amongst population biologists. Here I present a view of the optimality approach as at once playing a crucial explanatory role and yet also depending on external sources of confirmation. Optimality models are not alone in facing this tension between their explanatory value and their dependence on other approaches; I suspect that the scenario is quite common in science. This investigation of the optimality approach thus serves as a case (...)
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  22. added 2011-07-08
    Explanatory Depth.Brad Weslake - 2010 - Philosophy of Science 77 (2):273-294.
    I defend an account of explanatory depth according to which explanations in the non-fundamental sciences can be deeper than explanations in fundamental physics.
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  23. added 2011-07-08
    Optimality Modeling and Explanatory Generality.Angela Potochnik - 2007 - Philosophy of Science 74 (5):680-691.
    The optimality approach to modeling natural selection has been criticized by many biologists and philosophers of biology. For instance, Lewontin (1979) argues that the optimality approach is a shortcut that will be replaced by models incorporating genetic information, if and when such models become available. In contrast, I think that optimality models have a permanent role in evolutionary study. I base my argument for this claim on what I think it takes to best explain an event. In certain contexts, optimality (...)
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