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  1. Hempel on Scientific Understanding.Xingming Hu - 2021 - Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part A 88 (8):164-171.
    Hempel seems to hold the following three views: (H1) Understanding is pragmatic/relativistic: Whether one understands why X happened in terms of Explanation E depends on one's beliefs and cognitive abilities; (H2) Whether a scientific explanation is good, just like whether a mathematical proof is good, is a nonpragmatic and objective issue independent of the beliefs or cognitive abilities of individuals; (H3) The goal of scientific explanation is understanding: A good scientific explanation is the one that provides understanding. Apparently, H1, H2, (...)
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  • The Landscape and the Multiverse: What’s the Problem?James Read & Baptiste Le Bihan - 2021 - Synthese 1:1-23.
    As a candidate theory of quantum gravity, the popularity of string theory has waxed and waned over the past four decades. One current source of scepticism is that the theory can be used to derive, depending upon the input geometrical assumptions that one makes, a vast range of different quantum field theories, giving rise to the so-called landscape problem. One apparent way to address the landscape problem is to posit the existence of a multiverse; this, however, has in turn drawn (...)
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  • Do fictions explain?James Nguyen - forthcoming - Synthese:1-26.
    I argue that fictional models, construed as models that misrepresent certain ontological aspects of their target systems, can nevertheless explain why the latter exhibit certain behaviour. They can do this by accurately representing whatever it is that that behaviour counterfactually depends on. However, we should be sufficiently sensitive to different explanatory questions, i.e., ‘why does certain behaviour occur?’ versus ‘why does the counterfactual dependency invoked to answer that question actually hold?’. With this distinction in mind, I argue that whilst fictional (...)
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  • The Prospects for a Monist Theory of Non-Causal Explanation in Science and Mathematics.Alexander Reutlinger, Mark Colyvan & Karolina Krzyżanowska - forthcoming - Erkenntnis:1-21.
    We explore the prospects of a monist account of explanation for both non-causal explanations in science and pure mathematics. Our starting point is the counterfactual theory of explanation (CTE) for explanations in science, as advocated in the recent literature on explanation. We argue that, despite the obvious differences between mathematical and scientific explanation, the CTE can be extended to cover both non-causal explanations in science and mathematical explanations. In particular, a successful application of the CTE to mathematical explanations requires us (...)
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  • How Do We Obtain Understanding with the Help of Explanations?Gabriel Târziu - 2021 - Axiomathes 31 (2):173-197.
    What exactly do we need in order to enjoy the cognitive benefit that is supposed to be provided by an explanation? Some philosophers :15–37, 2012, Episteme 10:1–17, 2013, Eur J Philos Sci 5:377–385, 2015, Understanding, explanation, and scientific knowledge, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, 2017) would say that all that we need is to know the explanation. Others :1–26, 2012; Strevens in Stud Hist Philos Sci Part A 44:510–515, 2013) would say that achieving understanding with the help of an explanation requires (...)
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  • Understanding Does Not Depend on (Causal) Explanation.Philippe Verreault-Julien - 2019 - European Journal for Philosophy of Science 9 (2):18.
    One can find in the literature two sets of views concerning the relationship between understanding and explanation: that one understands only if 1) one has knowledge of causes and 2) that knowledge is provided by an explanation. Taken together, these tenets characterize what I call the narrow knowledge account of understanding. While the first tenet has recently come under severe attack, the second has been more resistant to change. I argue that we have good reasons to reject it on the (...)
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  • Viewing-as Explanations and Ontic Dependence.William D’Alessandro - 2020 - Philosophical Studies 177 (3):769-792.
    According to a widespread view in metaphysics and philosophy of science, all explanations involve relations of ontic dependence between the items appearing in the explanandum and the items appearing in the explanans. I argue that a family of mathematical cases, which I call “viewing-as explanations”, are incompatible with the Dependence Thesis. These cases, I claim, feature genuine explanations that aren’t supported by ontic dependence relations. Hence the thesis isn’t true in general. The first part of the paper defends this claim (...)
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  • Naturalism and the Metaphysics of Perception.Zoe Drayson - forthcoming - In Heather Logue & Louise Richardson (eds.), Purpose and procedure in philosophy of perception.
    How does the philosophical debate between naive realism and intentionalism relate to the psychological debate between ecological theories and constructivist theories? The participants in each debate take themselves to be doing something distinctive, but I show that characterizing the distinction is difficult: the theories in both debates use inference to the best explanation to draw contingent conclusions about the constitutive nature of perception. I argue that both debates concern the metaphysics of perception, and that philosophers of perception are wrong to (...)
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  • Asymmetry as a Challenge to Counterfactual Accounts of Non-Causal Explanation.Marc Lange - 2019 - Synthese 198 (4):3893-3918.
    This paper examines some recent attempts that use counterfactuals to understand the asymmetry of non-causal scientific explanations. These attempts recognize that even when there is explanatory asymmetry, there may be symmetry in counterfactual dependence. Therefore, something more than mere counterfactual dependence is needed to account for explanatory asymmetry. Whether that further ingredient, even if applicable to causal explanation, can fit non-causal explanation is the challenge that explanatory asymmetry poses for counterfactual accounts of non-causal explanation. This paper argues that several recent (...)
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  • Explanatory Distance.Elanor Taylor - forthcoming - British Journal for the Philosophy of Science.
    When a train operator tells us that our train will be late ‘because of delays’, their attempt at explanation fails because there is insufficient distance between the explanans and the explanandum. In this paper, I motivate and defend an account of ‘explanatory distance’, based on the idea that explanations give information about dependence. I show that this account offers useful resources for addressing problem cases, including recent debates about grounding explanation, and the historical case of Molière’s dormitive virtue.
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  • General Solution to All Philosophical Problems With Some Exceptions.Wayde Beasley - forthcoming - north of parallel 40: Numerous uncommitted.
    Philosophy is unsolved. My forthcoming book sets forth the final resolution, with some exceptions, to this 2,500 year crisis. I am currently close to finishing page 983.
     
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  • Realism and the Limits of Explanatory Reasoning.Juha Saatsi - 2018 - In The Routledge Handbook of Scientific Realism. London: Routledge. pp. 200-211.
    This chapter examines issues surrounding inference to the best explanation, its justification, and its role in different arguments for scientific realism, as well as more general issues concerning explanations’ ontological commitments. Defending the reliability of inference to the best explanation has been a central plank in various realist arguments, and realists have drawn various ontological conclusions from the premise that a given scientific explanation best explains some phenomenon. This chapter stresses the importance of thinking carefully about the nature of explanation (...)
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  • On the Ostrogradski Instability; or, Why Physics Really Uses Second Derivatives.Noel Swanson - forthcoming - British Journal for the Philosophy of Science:axz042.
    Candidates for fundamental physical laws rarely, if ever, employ higher than second time derivatives. Easwaran sketches an enticing story that purports to explain away this puzzling fact and thereby provides indirect evidence for a particular set of metaphysical theses used in the explanation. I object to both the scope and coherence of Easwaran's account, before going on to defend an alternative, more metaphysically deflationary explanation: in interacting Lagrangian field theories, it is either impossible or very hard to incorporate higher than (...)
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  • Is Verstehen Scientific Understanding?Kareem Khalifa - 2019 - Philosophy of the Social Sciences 49 (4):282-306.
    Many have argued that the human sciences feature a unique form of understanding that is absent from the natural sciences. However, in the last decade or so, epistemologists and philosop...
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  • A New Proposal How to Handle Counterexamples to Markov Causation À la Cartwright, Or: Fixing the Chemical Factory.Nina Retzlaff & Alexander Gebharter - 2020 - Synthese 197 (4):1467-1486.
    Cartwright (Synthese 121(1/2):3–27, 1999a; The dappled world, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, 1999b) attacked the view that causal relations conform to the Markov condition by providing a counterexample in which a common cause does not screen off its effects: the prominent chemical factory. In this paper we suggest a new way to handle counterexamples to Markov causation such as the chemical factory. We argue that Cartwright’s as well as similar scenarios feature a certain kind of non-causal dependence that kicks in once (...)
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