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  1. The Meta-Explanatory Question.L. R. Franklin-Hall - manuscript
    Philosophical theories of explanation characterize the difference between correct and incorrect explanations. While remaining neutral as to which of these ‘first-order’ theories is right, this paper asks the ‘meta-explanatory’ question: is the difference between correct and incorrect explanation real, i.e., objective or mind-independent? After offering a framework for distinguishing realist from anti-realist views, I sketch three distinct paths to explanatory anti-realism.
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  2. What Caused the Bhopal Gas Tragedy? The Philosophical Importance of Causal and Pragmatic Details.Brian J. Hanley - forthcoming - Philosophy of Science.
    In cases where many causes together bring about an effect, it is common to select some as particularly important. Philosophers since Mill have been pessimistic about analyzing this reasoning due its variability and the multifarious causal and pragmatic details of how it works. I argue Mill was right to think these details matter, but wrong that they preclude philosophical analysis of causal selection. I show that analyzing the pragmatic details of scientific debates about the important causes of the Bhopal Gas (...)
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  3. Context in Mechanism-Based Explanation.Gianluca Pozzoni & Tuukka Kaidesoja - forthcoming - Philosophy of the Social Sciences.
    In this article, we discuss the issue of context-dependence of mechanism-based explanation in the social sciences. The different ways in which the context-dependence and context-independence of mechanism-based explanation have been understood in the social sciences are often motivated by different and apparently incompatible understandings of what explanatory mechanisms are. Instead, we suggest that the different varieties of context-dependence are best seen as corresponding to different research goals. Rather than conflicting with one another, these goals are complementary to each other and (...)
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  4. Shades of Grey: Granularity, Pragmatics, and Non-Causal Explanation.Hugh Desmond - 2019 - Perspectives on Science 27 (1):68-87.
    Implicit contextual factors mean that the boundary between causal and noncausal explanation is not as neat as one might hope: as the phenomenon to be explained is given descriptions with varying degrees of granularity, the nature of the favored explanation alternates between causal and non-causal. While it is not surprising that different descriptions of the same phenomenon should favor different explanations, it is puzzling why re-describing the phenomenon should make any difference for the causal nature of the favored explanation. I (...)
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  5. Speech Act Theory and the Multiple Aims of Science.Paul L. Franco - 2019 - Philosophy of Science 86 (5):1005-1015.
    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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  6. Review of Chrysostomos Mantzavinos's Explanatory Pluralism. [REVIEW]Alexander Beard & Cory Wright - 2018 - Analysis 78 (3):569–572.
  7. Divide and Conquer: The Authority of Nature and Why We Disagree About Human Nature.Maria Kronfeldner - 2018 - In Elizabeth Hannon & Tim Lewens (eds.), Why we disagree about human nature. Oxford: Oxford University Press. pp. 186-206.
    The term ‘human nature’ can refer to different things in the world and fulfil different epistemic roles. Human nature can refer to a classificatory nature (classificatory criteria that determine the boundaries of, and membership in, a biological or social group called ‘human’), a descriptive nature (a bundle of properties describing the respective group’s life form), or an explanatory nature (a set of factors explaining that life form). This chapter will first introduce these three kinds of ‘human nature’, together with seven (...)
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  8. Explanation, Understanding, and Belief Revision.Andrés Páez - 2018 - In Marco Ruffino, Max Freund & Max Fernández de Castro (eds.), Logic and philosophy of logic. Recent trends from Latin America and Spain. London: College Publications. pp. 233-252.
  9. Reductive Explanation in the Biological Sciences.Marie I. Kaiser - 2015 - Cham: Springer.
    Back cover: This book develops a philosophical account that reveals the major characteristics that make an explanation in the life sciences reductive and distinguish them from non-reductive explanations. Understanding what reductive explanations are enables one to assess the conditions under which reductive explanations are adequate and thus enhances debates about explanatory reductionism. The account of reductive explanation presented in this book has three major characteristics. First, it emerges from a critical reconstruction of the explanatory practice of the life sciences itself. (...)
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  10. Causal Patterns and Adequate Explanations.Angela Potochnik - 2015 - Philosophical Studies 172 (5):1163-1182.
    Causal accounts of scientific explanation are currently broadly accepted (though not universally so). My first task in this paper is to show that, even for a causal approach to explanation, significant features of explanatory practice are not determined by settling how causal facts bear on the phenomenon to be explained. I then develop a broadly causal approach to explanation that accounts for the additional features that I argue an explanation should have. This approach to explanation makes sense of several aspects (...)
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  11. Scientists’ Use of Diagrams in Developing Mechanistic Explanations: A Case Study From Chronobiology.Daniel C. Burnston, Benjamin Sheredos, Adele Abrahamsen & William Bechtel - 2014 - Pragmatics and Cognition 22 (2):224-243.
    We explore the crucial role of diagrams in scientific reasoning, especially reasoning directed at developing mechanistic explanations of biological phenomena. We offer a case study focusing on one research project that resulted in a published paper advancing a new understanding of the mechanism by which the central circadian oscillator in Synechococcus elongatus controls gene expression. By examining how the diagrams prepared for the paper developed over the course of multiple drafts, we show how the process of generating a new explanation (...)
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  12. L'explication en biologie.Marie I. Kaiser - 2014 - In F. Merlin & T. Hoquet (eds.), Précis de Philosophie de la biologie [Handbook Philosophy of Biology]. Paris, France: Vuibert Press. pp. 143-155.
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  13. Explanation, Contrast, and the Primacy of Practice.Larry Wright - 2014 - European Journal of Philosophy 22 (1):82-95.
    : The common practice of giving (comparing, rejecting and inferring) explanations of phenomena is at the root of articulate learning, including the enterprises we collect under the noun ‘science’. The way that practice privileges a single item from the myriad relevant to any phenomenon tells us something about articulateness itself.
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  14. On the Rationale for Distinguishing Arguments From Explanations.Matthew W. McKeon - 2013 - Argumentation 27 (3):283-303.
    Even with the lack of consensus on the nature of an argument, the thesis that explanations and arguments are distinct is near orthodoxy in well-known critical thinking texts and in the more advanced argumentation literature. In this paper, I reconstruct two rationales for distinguishing arguments from explanations. According to one, arguments and explanations are essentially different things because they have different structures. According to the other, while some explanations and arguments may have the same structure, they are different things because (...)
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  15. Contrastive Explanation.Christopher Hitchcock - 2012 - In Martijn Blaauw (ed.), Contrastivism in Philosophy: New Perspectives. Routledge.
  16. Mechanistic Explanation Without the Ontic Conception.Cory Wright - 2012 - European Journal of Philosophy of Science 2 (3):375-394.
    The ontic conception of scientific explanation has been constructed and motivated on the basis of a putative lexical ambiguity in the term explanation. I raise a puzzle for this ambiguity claim, and then give a deflationary solution under which all ontically-rendered talk of explanation is merely elliptical; what it is elliptical for is a view of scientific explanation that altogether avoids the ontic conception. This result has revisionary consequences for New Mechanists and other philosophers of science, many of whom have (...)
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  17. A Pragmatic Account of Mechanistic Artifact Explanation.Jan De Winter - 2011 - Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part A 42 (4):602-609.
  18. Henk W. De Regt, Sabina Leonelli and Kai Eigner , Scientific Understanding: Philosophical Perspectives. Pittsburgh: University of Pittsburgh Press, 2009. Pp. Ix+352. ISBN 978-0-8229-4378-6. $65.00. [REVIEW]Jacob Stegenga - 2011 - British Journal for the History of Science 44 (4):578-580.
  19. Causes, Conditions, and the Pragmatics of Causal Explanation.Jim Woodward - 2011 - In Gregory J. Morgan (ed.), Philosophy of Science Matters: The Philosophy of Peter Achinstein. Oxford University Press. pp. 247.
  20. Background Shifts Affect Explanatory Style: How a Pragmatic Theory of Explanation Accounts for Background Effects in the Generation of Explanations.Seth Chin-Parker & Alexandra Bradner - 2009 - Cognitive Processing.
  21. The Logic of How-Questions.William Jaworski - 2009 - Synthese 166 (1):133 - 155.
    Philosophers and scientists are concerned with the why and the how of things. Questions like the following are so much grist for the philosopher’s and scientist’s mill: How can we be free and yet live in a deterministic universe?, How do neural processes give rise to conscious experience?, Why does conscious experience accompany certain physiological events at all?, How is a three-dimensional perception of depth generated by a pair of two-dimensional retinal images?. Since Belnap and Steel’s pioneering work on the (...)
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  22. On Causal Attribution.B. Ingemar B. Lindahl - 2009 - Dissertation, Stockholm University
    This dissertation treats of the problem of attributing the occurrence of an individual event or state to a single cause — a problem commonly understood either as a question of distinguishing the cause from the mere conditions or as a matter of singling out, from several causes, one cause, as the cause. The main purpose of the study is to clarify some basic concepts, and some criteria of ascertainment of the cause, that may be discerned in the literature on causal (...)
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  23. Causation, Unification, and the Adequacy of Explanations of Facts.Jeroen van Bouwel - 2009 - Theoria: Revista de Teoría, Historia y Fundamentos de la Ciencia 24 (3):301-320.
    Pluralism with respect to the structure of explanations of facts is not uncommon. Wesley Salmon, for instance, distinguished two types of explanation: causal explanations (which provide insight in the causes of the fact we want to explain) and unification explanations (which fit the explanandum into a unified world view). The pluralism which Salmon and others have defended is compatible with several positions about the exact relation between these two types of explanations. We distinguish four such positions, and argue in favour (...)
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  24. Explanation and Modelization in a Comprehensive Inferential Account.Donato-Rodríguez Xavieder & Zamora-Bonilla Jesús - 2009 - In Henk W. de Regt, Stephan Hartmann & Okasha Samir (eds.), EPSA Philosophy of Science: Amsterdam 2009.
    In the present paper, we defend an inferential account both of explanation and scientific modelling. Our account is “comprehensive” in the sense that we assume a pragmatic perspective that tries to capture the intrinsic versatility scientific models and explanations may adopt in the course of scientific discourse. This inferential-pragmatic view is essentially inspired by the work of Robert Brandom in the philosophy of language (see Brandom 1994 and 2000), but takes elements from other authors, mainly from argumentation theory and epistemology. (...)
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  25. Scientific Understanding: Philosophical Perspectives.Henk de Regt, Sabina Leonelli & Kai Eigner (eds.) - 2008 - University of Pittsburgh Press.
    The chapters in this book highlight the multifaceted nature of the process of scientific research.
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  26. Rethinking Explanation.Johannes Persson & Petri Ylikoski (eds.) - 2007 - Springer.
    This book highlights some of the conceptual problems that still need to be solved and points out a number of fresh philosophical ideas to explore.
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  27. The Idea of Contrastive Explanandum.Petri Ylikoski - 2007 - In Johannes Persson & Petri Ylikoski (eds.), Rethinking Explanation. Springer. pp. 27--42.
  28. On Pragmatic and Non-Pragmatic Concept of Explanation.Eugen Zeleňák - 2006 - Organon F: Medzinárodný Časopis Pre Analytickú Filozofiu 13 (3):334-348.
    This paper attempts to analyze in detail the difference between a pragmatic and non-pragmatic approach to explanation. Proponents of a pragmatic explanation analyze it by means of the concepts of context or audience. However, there could be various disguises of this type of approach. It is possible to include pragmatic concepts into the characterization of the item to be explained or the item that explains. On the other hand, pragmatic approach may focus on the specific relation between the item to (...)
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  29. Explanation and Metaphysics.Alexander Bird - 2005 - Synthese 143 (1-2):89-107.
    Is the nature of explanation a metaphysical issue? Or has it more to do with psychology and pragmatics? To put things in a different way: what are primary relata in an explanation? What sorts of thing explain what other sorts of thing? David Lewis identifies two senses of ‘explanation’ (Lewis 1986, 217–218). In the first sense, an explanation is an act of explaining. I shall call this the subjectivist sense, since its existence depends on some subject doing the explaining. Hence (...)
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  30. A Contextual Approach to Scientific Understanding.Henk W. de Regt & Dennis Dieks - 2005 - Synthese 144 (1):137-170.
    Achieving understanding of nature is one of the aims of science. In this paper we offer an analysis of the nature of scientific understanding that accords with actual scientific practice and accommodates the historical diversity of conceptions of understanding. Its core idea is a general criterion for the intelligibility of scientific theories that is essentially contextual: which theories conform to this criterion depends on contextual factors, and can change in the course of time. Our analysis provides a general account of (...)
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  31. An “Empirical Science” of Literature.Edmund Nierlich - 2005 - Journal for General Philosophy of Science / Zeitschrift für Allgemeine Wissenschaftstheorie 36 (2):351 - 376.
    In this article the outlines are sketched of an empirical science of literature as close as possible to the model of the natural sciences. This raises the question of what the standards of an empirical science in the strictest sense should generally be. Practical relevance of its results soon turns up as the fundamental condition for an explanatory empirical science, if the ideology of nearing an empirical truth is no longer accepted and a mere pragmatic justification rejected as its insufficient (...)
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  32. Scientific Explanation: Conclusiveness Conditions on Explanation-Seeking Questions.Matti Sintonen - 2005 - Synthese 143 (1-2):179 - 205.
  33. The Pragmatic-Rhetorical Theory of Explanation.Jan Faye - 2004 - In Johannes Persson & Petri Ylikoski (eds.), Rethinking Explanation. Springer. pp. 43--68.
    The pragmatic theory of explanation is an attempt to see explanation as a linguistic response to a cognitive problem where the content of the response depends on the context of the scientific inquiry. The present paper draws on the rhetorical situation, as it is defined by Loyld Bitzer, in order to understand how the context may influence the content as well as the acceptability of the response.
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  34. Holistic Explanations of Events.Aviezer Tucker - 2004 - Philosophy 79 (4):573-589.
    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, (...)
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  35. More Telltale Signs: What Attention to Representation Reveals About Scientific Explanation.Andrea I. Woody - 2004 - Philosophy of Science 71 (5):780-793.
    This essay explores the connection between representation and explanation in the sciences. I suggest that scientific representation schemes be viewed as pragmatic tools for acquiring the sort of articulated awareness that is the hallmark of nontrivial knowledge. Crystal field theory in chemistry illustrates this perspective. Certain representations achieve the status of being paradigmatically explanatory, thereby shaping models of intelligibility. In turn, these explanatory preferences serve largely to define and differentiate disciplinary communities by implicitly endorsing particular epistemic aims and values. In (...)
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  36. Remote Causes, Bad Explanations?Jeroen Van Bouwel & Erik Weber - 2002 - Journal for the Theory of Social Behaviour 32 (4):437–449.
  37. The Pragmatics of Explanation.Bas van Fraassen - 2002 - In Yuri Balashov & Alexander Rosenberg (eds.), Philosophy of Science: Contemporary Readings. Routledge. pp. 56.
  38. Understanding Interests and Causal Explanation.Petri Ylikoski - 2001 - Dissertation, University of Helsinki
    This work consists of two parts. Part I will be a contribution to a philo- sophical discussion of the nature of causal explanation. It will present my contrastive counterfactual theory of causal explanation and show how it can be used to deal with a number of problems facing theories of causal explanation. Part II is a contribution to a discussion of the na- ture of interest explanation in social studies of science. The aim is to help to resolve some controversies (...)
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  39. Explanation as Contextual.R. A. Young - 2001 - In P. Bouquet V. Akman (ed.), Modeling and Using Context. Springer. pp. 381--394.
  40. Erotetic Logic and Explanation by Abnormic Hypotheses.Andrzej WiśNiewski - 1999 - Synthese 120 (3):295-309.
    A relativized concept of a possiblecorrect answer to a why-question is introduced. Acertain procedure of looking for acceptable answers towhy-questions is analyzed in terms of erotetic logic,i.e., the logic of questions.
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  41. Metafora.Sergio Volodia Marcello Cremaschi - 1996 - In Virgilio Melchiorre (ed.), Enciclopedia della Filosofia e delle Scienze Umane. Novara, Italy: DeAgostini. pp. 607-608.
    A short reconstruction of the origins of the concept of metaphor, the early modern mistrust of metaphor in the name of univocal scientific language, the twentieth century rescue of the cognitive value of metaphor.
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  42. Scientific Explanation: A Critical Survey.Gerhard Schurz - 1995 - Foundations of Science 1 (3):429-465.
    This paper describes the development of theories of scientific explanation since Hempel's earliest models in the 1940ies. It focuses on deductive and probabilistic whyexplanations and their main problems: lawlikeness, explanation-prediction asymmetries, causality, deductive and probabilistic relevance, maximal specifity and homogenity, the height of the probability value. For all of these topic the paper explains the most important approaches as well as their criticism, including the author's own accounts. Three main theses of this paper are: (1) Both deductive and probabilistic explanations (...)
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  43. On What We Know and What We Don’T Know: Explanation, Theory, Linguistics, and How Questions Shape Them.Sylvain Bromberger - 1992 - Chicago and London: University of Chicago Press.
    In this collection of essays, Bromberger explores the centrality of questions and predicaments they create in scientific research. He discusses the nature of explanation, theory, and the foundations of linguistics.
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  44. Explanation and the Theory of Questions.Charles B. Cross - 1991 - Erkenntnis 34 (2):237 - 260.
    In The Scientific Image B. C. van Fraassen argues that a theory of explanation ought to take the form of a theory of why-questions, and a theory of this form is what he provides. Van Fraassen's account of explanation is good, as far as it goes. In particular, van Fraassen's theory of why-questions adds considerable illumination to the problem of alternative explanations in psychodynamics. But van Fraassen's theory is incomplete because it ignores those classes of explanations that are answers not (...)
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  45. Theories of Explanation.Joseph Pitt (ed.) - 1988 - Oxford University Press.
    Since the publication of Carl Hempel and Paul Oppenheim's ground-breaking work "Studies in the Logic of Explanation," the theory of explanation has remained a major topic in the philosophy of science. This valuable collection provides readers with the opportunity to study some of the classic essays on the theory of explanation along with the best examples of the most recent work being done on the topic. In addition to the original Hempel and Oppenheim paper, the volume includes Scriven's critical reaction (...)
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  46. The Pragmatic Theory of Explanation.Bas C. Van Fraassen - 1988 - In Joseph C. Pitt (ed.), Theories of Explanation. Oxford University Press.
  47. Van Fraassen on Explanation.Philip Kitcher & Wesley Salmon - 1987 - Journal of Philosophy 84 (6):315-330.
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  48. The Pragmatic Character of Explanation.Peter Achinstein - 1984 - PSA: Proceedings of the Biennial Meeting of the Philosophy of Science Association 1984:275 - 292.
    Theories of explanation are characterized as being either pragmatic or non-pragmatic, without a clear sense of what this is supposed to mean. The present paper offers a definition of a "pragmatic explanation-sentence", and in terms of this, of a "pragmatic theory of explanation". It is argued that van Fraassen's theory of explanation, despite claims to the contrary, is not genuinely pragmatic. By contrast, the author's own "illocutionary" theory is pragmatic. Attention is devoted particularly to sentences of the form "E is (...)
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  49. The Pragmatics of Scientific Explanation.Matti Sintonen - 1984 - Academic Bookstore [Distributor].
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  50. The Nature of Explanation.Peter Achinstein - 1983 - Oxford University Press.
    Offering a new approach to scientific explanation, this book focuses initially on the explaining act itself.
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