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  1. added 2019-02-22
    The Narrow Ontic Counterfactual Account of Distinctively Mathematical Explanation.Mark Povich - forthcoming - British Journal for the Philosophy of Science.
    An account of distinctively mathematical explanation (DME) should satisfy three desiderata: it should account for the modal import of some DMEs; it should distinguish uses of mathematics in explanation that are distinctively mathematical from those that are not (Baron [2016]); and it should also account for the directionality of DMEs (Craver and Povich [2017]). Baron’s (forthcoming) deductive-mathematical account, because it is modelled on the deductive-nomological account, is unlikely to satisfy these desiderata. I provide a counterfactual account of DME, the Narrow (...)
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  2. added 2018-12-21
    Uproszczone Systemy Dekodowania Sygnałów W Mechanistycznej Koncepcji Wyjaśniania Zjawiska Wtórnej Odpowiedzi Immunologicznej.Tomasz Rzepiński - 2016 - Diametros 50:43-62.
    The paper deals with the procedure of explaining the secondary immune response. First, the basic concepts of the mechanistic account of explanation developed by Machamer, Darden and Craver will be considered. Subsequently, I will focus on the concepts describing the activation of the elements of the immunological system viewed as a signal decoding process. The analysis will make it possible to argue for the thesis that the explanations of the secondary immune response, formulated in immunology, aim to describe the possible (...)
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  3. added 2018-11-23
    How-Possibly Explanations in (Quantum) Computer Science.Michael E. Cuffaro - 2015 - Philosophy of Science 82 (5):737-748.
    A primary goal of quantum computer science is to find an explanation for the fact that quantum computers are more powerful than classical computers. In this paper I argue that to answer this question is to compare algorithmic processes of various kinds and to describe the possibility spaces associated with these processes. By doing this, we explain how it is possible for one process to outperform its rival. Further, in this and similar examples little is gained in subsequently asking a (...)
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  4. added 2018-11-09
    Helen E. Longino. Studying Human Behavior: How Scientists Investigate Aggression and Sexuality. Xi + 249 Pp., Tables, App., Bibl., Indexes. Chicago/London: University of Chicago Press. $25. [REVIEW]Maria Kronfeldner - 2014 - Isis 105 (4):876-877.
  5. added 2018-10-30
    Reasons Why in Normative Explanation.Pekka Väyrynen - forthcoming - Inquiry: An Interdisciplinary Journal of Philosophy:1-17.
    Normative explanations, which specify why things have the normative features they do, are ubiquitous in normative theory and ordinary thought. But there is much less work on normative explanation than on scientific or metaphysical explanation. Skow (2016) argues that a complete answer to the question why some fact Q occurs consists in all of the reasons why Q occurs. This paper explores this theory as a case study of a general theory that promises to offer us a grip on normative (...)
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  6. added 2018-07-26
    Abstraction, Multiple Realizability, and the Explanatory Value of Omitting Irrelevant Details.Matthew C. Haug - manuscript
    Anti-reductionists hold that special science explanations of some phenomena are objectively better than physical explanations of those phenomena. Prominent defenses of this claim appeal to the multiple realizability of special science properties. I argue that special science explanations can be shown to be better, in one respect, than physical explanations in a way that does not depend on multiple realizability. Namely, I discuss a way in which a special science explanation may be more abstract than a competing physical explanation, even (...)
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  7. added 2018-06-20
    The Ontic Conception of Scientific Explanation.Cory Wright - 2015 - Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part A 54:20-30.
    Wesley Salmon’s version of the ontic conception of explanation is a main historical root of contemporary work on mechanistic explanation. This paper examines and critiques the philosophical merits of Salmon’s version, and argues that his conception’s most fundamental construct is either fundamentally obscure, or else reduces to a non-ontic conception of explanation. Either way, the ontic conception is a misconception.
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  8. added 2018-06-12
    Review of Chrysostomos Mantzavinos's Explanatory Pluralism. [REVIEW]Alexander Beard & Cory Wright - 2018 - Analysis 78 (3):569–572.
  9. added 2018-05-11
    Counterfactuals and Explanatory Pluralism.Kareem Khalifa, Gabriel Doble & Jared Millson - forthcoming - British Journal for the Philosophy of Science.
    Recent literature on noncausal explanation raises the question as to whether explanatory monism, the thesis that all explanations submit to the same analysis, is true. The leading monist proposal holds that all explanations support change-relating counterfactuals. We provide several objections to this monist position.
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  10. added 2018-03-13
    Explanation Beyond Causation: Philosophical Perspectives on Non-Causal Explanations.Alexander Reutlinger & Juha Saatsi (eds.) - 2018 - Oxford University Press.
    Explanations are very important to us in many contexts: in science, mathematics, philosophy, and also in everyday and juridical contexts. But what is an explanation? In the philosophical study of explanation, there is long-standing, influential tradition that links explanation intimately to causation: we often explain by providing accurate information about the causes of the phenomenon to be explained. Such causal accounts have been the received view of the nature of explanation, particularly in philosophy of science, since the 1980s. However, philosophers (...)
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  11. added 2018-02-25
    Symmetries and Explanatory Dependencies in Physics.Steven French & Juha Saatsi - 2018 - In Alexander Reutlinger & Juha Saatsi (eds.), Explanation Beyond Causation: Philosophical Perspectives on Non-Causal Explanations. Oxford: Oxford University Press. pp. 185-205.
    Many important explanations in physics are based on ideas and assumptions about symmetries, but little has been said about the nature of such explanations. This chapter aims to fill this lacuna, arguing that various symmetry explanations can be naturally captured in the spirit of the counterfactual-dependence account of Woodward, liberalized from its causal trappings. From the perspective of this account symmetries explain by providing modal information about an explanatory dependence, by showing how the explanandum would have been different, had the (...)
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  12. added 2018-02-23
    Explanation Beyond Causation: Philosophical Perspectives on Non-Causal Explanations.Reutlinger Alexander & Juha Saatsi (eds.) - forthcoming - Oxford University Press.
    Explanations are important to us in many contexts: in science, mathematics, philosophy, and also in everyday and juridical contexts. But what is an explanation? In the philosophical study of explanation, there is a long-standing, in uential tradition that links explanation intimately to causation: we often explain by providing accurate information about the causes of the phenomenon to be explained. Such causal accounts have been the received view of the nature of explanation, particularly in philosophy of science, since the 1980s. However, (...)
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  13. added 2018-02-23
    On Explanations From 'Geometry of Motion'.Juha Saatsi - 2018 - British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 69 (1):253–273.
    This paper examines explanations that turn on non-local geometrical facts about the space of possible configurations a system can occupy. I argue that it makes sense to contrast such explanations from ‘geometry of motion’ with causal explanations. I also explore how my analysis of these explanations cuts across the distinction between kinematics and dynamics.
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  14. added 2018-02-09
    Searching for Noncausal Explanations in a Sea of Causes.Alisa Bokulich - 2018 - In Alexander Reutlinger & Juha Saatsi (eds.), Explanation Beyond Causation Philosophical Perspectives on Non-Causal Explanations. Oxford University Press.
    In the spirit of explanatory pluralism, this chapter argues that causal and noncausal explanations of a phenomenon are compatible, each being useful for bringing out different sorts of insights. After reviewing a model-based account of scientific explanation, which can accommodate causal and noncausal explanations alike, an important core conception of noncausal explanation is identified. This noncausal form of model-based explanation is illustrated using the example of how Earth scientists in a subfield known as aeolian geomorphology are explaining the formation of (...)
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  15. added 2018-02-09
    Representing and Explaining: The Eikonic Conception of Scientific Explanation.Alisa Bokulich - 2018 - Philosophy of Science (5):793-805.
    The ontic conception of explanation, according to which explanations are "full-bodied things in the world," is fundamentally misguided. I argue instead for what I call the eikonic conception, according to which explanations are the product of an epistemic activity involving representations of the phenomena to be explained. What is explained in the first instance is a particular conceptualization of the explanandum phenomenon, contextualized within a given research program or explanatory project. I conclude that this eikonic conception has a number of (...)
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  16. added 2018-02-09
    Models and Explanation.Alisa Bokulich - 2017 - In Lorenzo Magnani & Tommaso Wayne Bertolotti (eds.), Springer Handbook of Model-Based Science. Springer. pp. 103-118.
    Detailed examinations of scientific practice have revealed that the use of idealized models in the sciences is pervasive. These models play a central role in not only the investigation and prediction of phenomena, but in their received scientific explanations as well. This has led philosophers of science to begin revising the traditional philosophical accounts of scientific explanation in order to make sense of this practice. These new model-based accounts of scientific explanation, however, raise a number of key questions: Can the (...)
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  17. added 2017-12-31
    Review of Marc Lange, Because Without Cause: Non-Causal Explanations in Science and Mathematics. [REVIEW]Mark Povich & Carl F. Craver - forthcoming - Philosophical Review.
    Lange’s collection of expanded, mostly previously published essays, packed with numerous, beautiful examples of putatively non-causal explanations from biology, physics, and mathematics, challenges the increasingly ossified causal consensus about scientific explanation, and, in so doing, launches a new field of philosophic investigation. However, those who embraced causal monism about explanation have done so because appeal to causal factors sorts good from bad scientific explanations and because the explanatory force of good explanations seems to derive from revealing the relevant causal (or (...)
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  18. added 2017-12-31
    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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  19. added 2017-10-11
    Duhemian Themes in Expected Utility Theory.Philippe Mongin - 2009 - In Anastasios Brenner and Jean Gayon (ed.), French Studies in the Philosophy of Science. Springer. pp. 303-357.
    This monographic chapter explains how expected utility (EU) theory arose in von Neumann and Morgenstern, how it was called into question by Allais and others, and how it gave way to non-EU theories, at least among the specialized quarters of decion theory. I organize the narrative around the idea that the successive theoretical moves amounted to resolving Duhem-Quine underdetermination problems, so they can be assessed in terms of the philosophical recommendations made to overcome these problems. I actually follow Duhem's recommendation, (...)
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  20. added 2017-06-22
    Eidos, Science and Wisdom.Raymond Aaron Younis - manuscript
    paper to be presented at "Religion, Society, and the Science of Life", 2017 IRC-ISSR Conference, 19-22 July, Ian Ramsey Centre for Science and Religion, Oxford University.
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  21. added 2017-03-02
    Constraint‐Based Reasoning for Search and Explanation: Strategies for Understanding Variation and Patterns in Biology.Sara Green & Nicholaos Jones - 2016 - Dialectica 70 (3):343-374.
    Life scientists increasingly rely upon abstraction-based modeling and reasoning strategies for understanding biological phenomena. We introduce the notion of constraint-based reasoning as a fruitful tool for conceptualizing some of these developments. One important role of mathematical abstractions is to impose formal constraints on a search space for possible hypotheses and thereby guide the search for plausible causal models. Formal constraints are, however, not only tools for biological explanations but can be explanatory by virtue of clarifying general dependency-relations and patterning between (...)
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  22. added 2017-02-21
    Explanation.Marie I. Kaiser - forthcoming - In L. N. de la Rosa & G. B. Müller (eds.), Evolutionary Developmental Biology - A Reference Guide. Cham: Springer.
  23. added 2017-02-16
    The Limits of Reductionism in the Life Sciences.Marie I. Kaiser - 2011 - History and Philosophy of the Life Sciences 33 (4):453-476.
    In the contemporary life sciences more and more researchers emphasize the “limits of reductionism” (e.g. Ahn et al. 2006a, 709; Mazzocchi 2008, 10) or they call for a move “beyond reductionism” (Gallagher/Appenzeller 1999, 79). However, it is far from clear what exactly they argue for and what the envisioned limits of reductionism are. In this paper I claim that the current discussions about reductionism in the life sciences, which focus on methodological and explanatory issues, leave the concepts of a reductive (...)
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  24. added 2017-02-15
    The Metaphysics of Constitutive Mechanistic Phenomena.Marie I. Kaiser & Beate Krickel - 2016 - British Journal for the Philosophy of Science:axv058.
    The central aim of this article is to specify the ontological nature of constitutive mechanistic phenomena. After identifying three criteria of adequacy that any plausible approach to constitutive mechanistic phenomena must satisfy, we present four different suggestions, found in the mechanistic literature, of what mechanistic phenomena might be. We argue that none of these suggestions meets the criteria of adequacy. According to our analysis, constitutive mechanistic phenomena are best understood as what we will call ‘object-involving occurrents’. Furthermore, on the basis (...)
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  25. added 2017-02-15
    Explanation in the Special Science: The Case of Biology and History.Marie I. Kaiser, Oliver Scholz, Daniel Plenge & Andreas Hüttemann (eds.) - 2014 - Dordrecht: Springer.
    Contents 1 Introduction – Points of Contact between Biology and History Marie I. Kaiser and Daniel Plenge Part I General Issues on Explanation 2 The Ontic Account of Scientific Explanation, Carl F. Craver Part II Explanation in the Biological Sciences 3 Causal Graphs and Biological Mechanisms, Alexander Gebharter and Marie I. Kaiser 4 Semiotic Explanation in the Biological Sciences, Ulrich Krohs 5 Mechanisms, Pathomechanisms, and Disease in Scientific Clinical Medicine, Gerhard Müller-Strahl 6 The Generalizations of Biology: Historical and Contingent? Alexander (...)
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  26. added 2016-12-12
    Universals, Metaphysical Explanations, and Pragmatism.Robert Kraut - 2010 - Journal of Philosophy 107 (11):590-609.
  27. added 2016-10-25
    Explanation Beyond Causation? New Directions in the Philosophy of Scientific Explanation.Alexander Reutlinger - 2017 - Philosophy Compass 12 (2):e12395.
    In this paper, I aim to provide access to the current debate on non-causal explanations in philosophy of science. I will first present examples of non-causal explanations in the sciences. Then, I will outline three alternative approaches to non-causal explanations – that is, causal reductionism, pluralism, and monism – and, corresponding to these three approaches, different strategies for distinguishing between causal and non-causal explanation. Finally, I will raise questions for future research on non-causal explanations.
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  28. added 2016-09-21
    Abstract Versus Causal Explanations?Reutlinger Alexander & Andersen Holly - 2016 - International Studies in the Philosophy of Science 30 (2):129-146.
    In the recent literature on causal and non-causal scientific explanations, there is an intuitive assumption according to which an explanation is non-causal by virtue of being abstract. In this context, to be ‘abstract’ means that the explanans in question leaves out many or almost all causal microphysical details of the target system. After motivating this assumption, we argue that the abstractness assumption, in placing the abstract and the causal character of an explanation in tension, is misguided in ways that are (...)
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  29. added 2016-08-31
    Emergence Reinflated.Alexander Skiles - 2016 - Philosophical Quarterly 66 (265):833-842.
    In ‘Collapsing Emergence’, Elanor Taylor argues that all accounts of emergence face a common problem: excluding ‘collapse-inducing’ features—features encoding information about macro-level phenomena—from the micro-level bases of putatively emergent phenomena in a metaphysically principled way. I argue that Taylor's solution to ‘the collapse problem’, which utilizes an explanation-based account of emergence she develops in recent work, does not succeed, as it relies on a false principle about the requirements for explanation. I then propose a better solution, one that presupposes no (...)
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  30. added 2016-08-23
    Certainty and Explanation in Descartes’s Philosophy of Science.Finnur Dellsén - 2017 - Hopos: The Journal of the International Society for the History of Philosophy of Science 7 (2):302-327.
    This paper presents a new approach to resolving an apparent tension in Descartes’ discussion of scientific theories and explanations in the Principles of Philosophy. On the one hand, Descartes repeatedly claims that any theories presented in science must be certain and indubitable. On the other hand, Descartes himself presents an astonishing number of speculative explanations of various scientific phenomena. In response to this tension, commentators have suggested that Descartes changed his mind about scientific theories having to be certain and indubitable, (...)
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  31. added 2016-07-20
    Does the Counterfactual Theory of Explanation Apply to Non-Causal Explanations in Metaphysics?Alexander Reutlinger - 2016 - European Journal for Philosophy of Science:1-18.
    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 (CTE) 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 (...)
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  32. added 2016-03-16
    The Miracle of Monism.John Dupré - 2004 - In Mario De Caro & David Macarthur (eds.), Naturalism in Question. Harvard University Press. pp. 36--58.
    This chapter defends a pluralistic view of science: the various projects of enquiry that fall under the general rubric of science share neither a methodology nor a subject matter. Ontologically, it is argued that sciences need have nothing in common beyond an antipathy to the supernatural. Epistemically one central virtue is defended, empiricism, meaning just that scientific knowledge must ultimately be answerable to experience. Prima facie science is as diverse as the world it studies; and rejection of this prima facie (...)
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  33. added 2015-11-21
    Complements, Not Competitors: Causal and Mathematical Explanations.Holly Andersen - 2017 - British Journal for the Philosophy of Science:axw023.
    A finer-grained delineation of a given explanandum reveals a nexus of closely related causal and non- causal explanations, complementing one another in ways that yield further explanatory traction on the phenomenon in question. By taking a narrower construal of what counts as a causal explanation, a new class of distinctively mathematical explanations pops into focus; Lange’s characterization of distinctively mathematical explanations can be extended to cover these. This new class of distinctively mathematical explanations is illustrated with the Lotka-Volterra equations. There (...)
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  34. added 2015-06-29
    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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  35. added 2015-05-29
    On Explanations From 'Geometry of Motion'.Juha Saatsi - 2018 - British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 69 (1):253–273.
    This paper examines explanations that turn on non-local geometrical facts about the space of possible configurations a system can occupy. I argue that it makes sense to contrast such explanations from "geometry of motion" with causal explanations. I also explore how my analysis of these explanations cuts across the distinction between kinematics and dynamics.
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  36. added 2015-04-16
    Mechanisms Meet Structural Explanation.Laura Felline - 2018 - Synthese 195 (1):99-114.
    This paper investigates the relationship between structural explanation and the New Mechanistic account of explanation. The aim of this paper is twofold: firstly, to argue that some phenomena in the domain of fundamental physics, although mechanically brute, are structurally explained; and secondly, by elaborating on the contrast between SE and mechanistic explanation to better clarify some features of SE. Finally, this paper will argue that, notwithstanding their apparently antithetical character, SE and ME can be reconciled within a unified account of (...)
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  37. added 2014-12-21
    Explanatory Translation. Beyond the Kuhnian Model of Conceptual Change.Veikko Rantala - 2002 - Kluwer/Springer.
    A systematic attempt to understand cognitive characteristics of translation by bringing its logical, pragmatic, and hermeneutic features together and examining a number of scientific, logical (philosophical and formal),and philosophical applications. The notion of translation investigated here is called explanatory since it is not a translation in the standard, meaning-saving sense but aims to provide an explanation for the meaning change in exact terms.
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  38. added 2014-07-14
    Humean Scientific Explanation.Elizabeth Miller - 2015 - Philosophical Studies 172 (5):1311-1332.
    In a recent paper, Barry Loewer attempts to defend Humeanism about laws of nature from a charge that Humean laws are not adequately explanatory. Central to his defense is a distinction between metaphysical and scientific explanations: even if Humeans cannot offer further metaphysical explanations of particular features of their “mosaic,” that does not preclude them from offering scientific explanations of these features. According to Marc Lange, however, Loewer’s distinction is of no avail. Defending a transitivity principle linking scientific explanantia to (...)
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  39. added 2014-03-17
    The Reason Why: A Theory of Philosophical Explanation.Edo Pivčević - 2007 - Kruzak.
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  40. added 2014-01-29
    Bowtie Structures, Pathway Diagrams, and Topological Explanation.Nicholaos Jones - 2014 - Erkenntnis 79 (5):1135-1155.
    While mechanistic explanation and, to a lesser extent, nomological explanation are well-explored topics in the philosophy of biology, topological explanation is not. Nor is the role of diagrams in topological explanations. These explanations do not appeal to the operation of mechanisms or laws, and extant accounts of the role of diagrams in biological science explain neither why scientists might prefer diagrammatic representations of topological information to sentential equivalents nor how such representations might facilitate important processes of explanatory reasoning unavailable to (...)
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  41. added 2013-05-10
    In Defense of a Causal Requirement on Explanation.Garrett Pendergraft - 2011 - In Phyllis McKay Illari Federica Russo (ed.), Causality in the Sciences. Oxford University Press. pp. 470.
    Causalists about explanation claim that to explain an event is to provide information about the causal history of that event. Some causalists also endorse a proportionality claim, namely that one explanation is better than another insofar as it provides a greater amount of causal information. In this chapter I consider various challenges to these causalist claims. There is a common and influential formulation of the causalist requirement – the ‘Causal Process Requirement’ – that does appear vulnerable to these anti-causalist challenges, (...)
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  42. 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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  43. added 2012-05-31
    Degree of Explanation.Robert Northcott - 2013 - Synthese 190 (15):3087-3105.
    Partial explanations are everywhere. That is, explanations citing causes that explain some but not all of an effect are ubiquitous across science, and these in turn rely on the notion of degree of explanation. I argue that current accounts are seriously deficient. In particular, they do not incorporate adequately the way in which a cause’s explanatory importance varies with choice of explanandum. Using influential recent contrastive theories, I develop quantitative definitions that remedy this lacuna, and relate it to existing measures (...)
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  44. added 2012-04-10
    Expressivist Explanations.Neil Sinclair - 2012 - Journal of Moral Philosophy 9 (2):147-177.
    In this paper I argue that the common practice of employing moral predicates as explaining phrases can be accommodated on an expressivist account of moral practice. This account does not treat moral explanations as in any way second-rate or derivative, since it subsumes moral explanations under the general theory of program explanations (as defended by Jackson and Pettit). It follows that the phenomenon of moral explanations cannot be used to adjudicate the debate between expressivism and its rivals.
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