Moving Beyond Causes: Optimality Models and Scientific Explanation

Noûs 49 (3):589-615 (2015)
  Copy   BIBTEX

Abstract

A prominent approach to scientific explanation and modeling claims that for a model to provide an explanation it must accurately represent at least some of the actual causes in the event's causal history. In this paper, I argue that many optimality explanations present a serious challenge to this causal approach. I contend that many optimality models provide highly idealized equilibrium explanations that do not accurately represent the causes of their target system. Furthermore, in many contexts, it is in virtue of their independence of causes that optimality models are able to provide a better explanation than competing causal models. Consequently, our account of explanation and modeling must expand beyond the causal approach.

Links

PhilArchive



    Upload a copy of this work     Papers currently archived: 76,215

External links

Setup an account with your affiliations in order to access resources via your University's proxy server

Through your library

Similar books and articles

Optimality modeling in a suboptimal world.Angela Potochnik - 2009 - Biology and Philosophy 24 (2):183-197.
Optimality modeling and explanatory generality.Angela Potochnik - 2007 - Philosophy of Science 74 (5):680-691.
Understanding science: Why causes are not enough.Ruth Berger - 1998 - Philosophy of Science 65 (2):306-332.
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.
Wyjaśnić to podać model przyczynowy.Paweł Kawalec - 2004 - Roczniki Filozoficzne 52 (2):241-265.
Explanation and laws.Alexander Bird - 1999 - Synthese 120 (1):1--18.
Models of intentional explanation.Robrecht Vanderbeeken - 2004 - Philosophical Explorations 7 (3):233 – 246.
Wesley salmon's complementarity thesis: Causalism and unificationism reconciled?Henk W. de Regt - 2006 - International Studies in the Philosophy of Science 20 (2):129 – 147.

Analytics

Added to PP
2013-09-02

Downloads
170 (#75,758)

6 months
8 (#105,043)

Historical graph of downloads
How can I increase my downloads?

Author's Profile

Collin Rice
Colorado State University

Citations of this work

Minimal Model Explanations.Robert W. Batterman & Collin C. Rice - 2014 - Philosophy of Science 81 (3):349-376.
Explanatory Abstractions.Lina Jansson & Juha Saatsi - 2019 - British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 70 (3):817–844.
Abstract Explanations in Science.Christopher Pincock - 2014 - British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 66 (4):857-882.

View all 82 citations / Add more citations