37 found
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  1. Abstraction and the Organization of Mechanisms.Arnon Levy & William Bechtel - 2013 - Philosophy of Science 80 (2):241-261.
    Proponents of mechanistic explanation all acknowledge the importance of organization. But they have also tended to emphasize specificity with respect to parts and operations in mechanisms. We argue that in understanding one important mode of organization—patterns of causal connectivity—a successful explanatory strategy abstracts from the specifics of the mechanism and invokes tools such as those of graph theory to explain how mechanisms with a particular mode of connectivity will behave. We discuss the connection between organization, abstraction, and mechanistic explanation and (...)
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  2. The epistemic imagination revisited.Arnon Levy & Ori Kinberg - 2023 - Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 107 (2):319-336.
    Recently, various philosophers have argued that we can obtain knowledge via the imagination. In particular, it has been suggested that we can come to know concrete, empirical matters of everyday significance by appropriately imagining relevant scenarios. Arguments for this thesis come in two main varieties: black box reliability arguments and constraints-based arguments. We suggest that both strategies are unsuccessful. Against black-box arguments, we point to evidence from empirical psychology, question a central case-study, and raise concerns about a (claimed) evolutionary rationale (...)
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  3. Evolutionary Debunking Arguments Meet Evolutionary Science.Arnon Levy & Yair Levy - 2020 - Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 100 (3):491-509.
    Evolutionary debunking arguments appeal to selective etiologies of human morality in an attempt to undermine moral realism. But is morality actually the product of evolution by natural selection? Although debunking arguments have attracted considerable attention in recent years, little of it has been devoted to whether the underlying evolutionary assumptions are credible. In this paper, we take a closer look at the evolutionary hypotheses put forward by two leading debunkers, namely Sharon Street and Richard Joyce. We raise a battery of (...)
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  4. Modeling without models.Arnon Levy - 2015 - Philosophical Studies 172 (3):781-798.
    Modeling is an important scientific practice, yet it raises significant philosophical puzzles. Models are typically idealized, and they are often explored via imaginative engagement and at a certain “distance” from empirical reality. These features raise questions such as what models are and how they relate to the world. Recent years have seen a growing discussion of these issues, including a number of views that treat modeling in terms of indirect representation and analysis. Indirect views treat the model as a bona (...)
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  5. Idealization and abstraction: refining the distinction.Arnon Levy - 2018 - Synthese 198 (Suppl 24):5855-5872.
    Idealization and abstraction are central concepts in the philosophy of science and in science itself. My goal in this paper is suggest an account of these concepts, building on and refining an existing view due to Jones Idealization XII: correcting the model. Idealization and abstraction in the sciences, vol 86. Rodopi, Amsterdam, pp 173–217, 2005) and Godfrey-Smith Mapping the future of biology: evolving concepts and theories. Springer, Berlin, 2009). On this line of thought, abstraction—which I call, for reasons to be (...)
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  6. Three kinds of new mechanism.Arnon Levy - 2013 - Biology and Philosophy 28 (1):99-114.
    I distinguish three theses associated with the new mechanistic philosophy – concerning causation, explanation and scientific methodology. Advocates of each thesis are identified and relationships among them are outlined. I then look at some recent work on natural selection and mechanisms. There, attention to different kinds of New Mechanism significantly affects of what is at stake.
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  7. What was Hodgkin and Huxley’s Achievement?Arnon Levy - 2013 - British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 65 (3):469-492.
    The Hodgkin–Huxley (HH) model of the action potential is a theoretical pillar of modern neurobiology. In a number of recent publications, Carl Craver ([2006], [2007], [2008]) has argued that the model is explanatorily deficient because it does not reveal enough about underlying molecular mechanisms. I offer an alternative picture of the HH model, according to which it deliberately abstracts from molecular specifics. By doing so, the model explains whole-cell behaviour as the product of a mass of underlying low-level events. The (...)
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  8. Model Organisms are Not (Theoretical) Models.Arnon Levy & Adrian Currie - 2015 - British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 66 (2):327-348.
    Many biological investigations are organized around a small group of species, often referred to as ‘model organisms’, such as the fruit fly Drosophila melanogaster. The terms ‘model’ and ‘modelling’ also occur in biology in association with mathematical and mechanistic theorizing, as in the Lotka–Volterra model of predator-prey dynamics. What is the relation between theoretical models and model organisms? Are these models in the same sense? We offer an account on which the two practices are shown to have different epistemic characters. (...)
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  9. Evolutionary debunking of (arguments for) moral realism.Arnon Levy & Itamar Weinshtock Saadon - 2023 - Synthese 201 (5):1-22.
    Moral realism is often taken to have common sense and initial appearances on its side. Indeed, by some lights, common sense and initial appearances underlie all the central positive arguments for moral realism. We offer a kind of debunking argument, taking aim at realism’s common sense standing. Our argument differs from familiar debunking moves both in its empirical assumptions and in how it targets the realist position. We argue that if natural selection explains the objective phenomenology of moral deliberation and (...)
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  10. Models, Fictions, and Realism: Two Packages.Arnon Levy - 2012 - Philosophy of Science 79 (5):738-748.
    Some philosophers of science – the present author included – appeal to fiction as an interpretation of the practice of modeling. This raises the specter of an incompatibility with realism, since fiction-making is essentially non-truth-regulated. I argue that the prima facie conflict can be resolved in two ways, each involving a distinct notion of fiction and a corresponding formulation of realism. The main goal of the paper is to describe these two packages. Toward the end I comment on how to (...)
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  11.  33
    The Scientific Imagination.Arnon Levy & Peter Godfrey-Smith (eds.) - 2019 - New York, US: Oup Usa.
    This book looks at the role of the imagination in science, from both philosophical and psychological perspectives. These contributions combine to provide a comprehensive and exciting picture of this under-explored subject.
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  12. Information in Biology: A Fictionalist Account.Arnon Levy - 2010 - Noûs 45 (4):640-657.
  13. Why experiments matter.Arnon Levy & Adrian Currie - 2019 - Inquiry: An Interdisciplinary Journal of Philosophy 62 (9-10):1066-1090.
    ABSTRACTExperimentation is traditionally considered a privileged means of confirmation. However, why and how experiments form a better confirmatory source relative to other strategies is unclear, and recent discussions have identified experiments with various modeling strategies on the one hand, and with ‘natural’ experiments on the other hand. We argue that experiments aiming to test theories are best understood as controlled investigations of specimens. ‘Control’ involves repeated, fine-grained causal manipulation of focal properties. This capacity generates rich knowledge of the object investigated. (...)
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  14.  93
    Design sans adaptation.Sara Green, Arnon Levy & William Bechtel - 2015 - European Journal for Philosophy of Science 5 (1):15-29.
    Design thinking in general, and optimality modeling in particular, have traditionally been associated with adaptationism—a research agenda that gives pride of place to natural selection in shaping biological characters. Our goal is to evaluate the role of design thinking in non-evolutionary analyses. Specifically, we focus on research into abstract design principles that underpin the functional organization of extant organisms. Drawing on case studies from engineering-inspired approaches in biology we show how optimality analysis, and other design-related methods, play a specific methodological (...)
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  15. Game Theory, Indirect Modeling, and the Origin of Morality.Arnon Levy - 2011 - Journal of Philosophy 108 (4):171-187.
  16. Bringing Thought Experiments Back into the Philosophy of Science.Arnon Levy & Adrian Currie - forthcoming - Studies in History and Philosophy of Science.
    To a large extent, the evidential base of claims in the philosophy of science has switched from thought experiments to case studies. We argue that abandoning thought experiments was a wrong turn, since they can effectively complement case studies. We make our argument via an analogy with the relationship between experiments and observations within science. Just as experiments and ‘natural’ observations can together evidence claims in science, each mitigating the downsides of the other, so too can thought experiments and case (...)
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  17.  80
    Machine-Likeness and Explanation by Decomposition.Arnon Levy - 2014 - Philosophers' Imprint 14.
    Analogies to machines are commonplace in the life sciences, especially in cellular and molecular biology — they shape conceptions of phenomena and expectations about how they are to be explained. This paper offers a framework for thinking about such analogies. The guiding idea is that machine-like systems are especially amenable to decompositional explanation, i.e., to analyses that tease apart underlying components and attend to their structural features and interrelations. I argue that for decomposition to succeed a system must exhibit causal (...)
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  18.  83
    Models, Fiction and the Imagination.Arnon Levy - 2024 - In Tarja Knuuttila, Natalia Carrillo & Rami Koskinen (eds.), The Routledge Handbook of Philosophy of Scientific Modeling. Routledge.
    Science and fiction seem to lie at opposite ends of the cognitive-epistemic spectrum. The former is typically seen as the study of hard, real-world facts in a rigorous manner. The latter is treated as an instrument of play and recreation, dealing in figments of the imagination. Initial appearances notwithstanding, several central features of scientific modeling in fact suggest a close connection with the imagination and recent philosophers have developed detailed accounts of models that treat them, in one way or another, (...)
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  19.  75
    Thought Experiments Repositioned.Arnon Levy - forthcoming - In Adrian Currie & Sophie Veigl (eds.), Philosophy of Science: A User's Guide. MIT Press.
    Thought experiments play a role in science and in some central parts of contemporary philosophy. They used to play a larger role in philosophy of science, but have been largely abandoned as part of the field’s “practice turn”. This chapter discusses possible roles for thought experimentation within a practice-oriented philosophy of science. Some of these roles are uncontroversial, such as exemplification and aiding discovery. A more controversial role is the reliance on thought experiments to justify philosophical claims. It is proposed (...)
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  20.  51
    Towards Mechanism 2.0: Expanding the Scope of Mechanistic Explanation.Arnon Levy & William Bechtel - unknown
    Accounts of mechanistic explanation, especially as applied to biology and sometimes going under the heading of “new mechanism,” provided an attractive alternative to nomological accounts that preceded them. These accounts were motivated by selected examples, drawn primarily from cell and molecular biology and neuroscience. However, the range of examples that scientists take to be mechanistic explanations is far broader. We focus on examples that differ from those traditionally recruited by Mechanists. Our contention is that attention to additional examples will lead (...)
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  21.  67
    The unity of neuroscience: a flat view.Arnon Levy - 2016 - Synthese 193 (12):3843-3863.
    This paper offers a novel view of unity in neuroscience. I set out by discussing problems with the classical account of unity-by-reduction, due to Oppenheim and Putnam. That view relies on a strong notion of levels, which has substantial problems. A more recent alternative, the mechanistic “mosaic” view due to Craver, does not have such problems. But I argue that the mosaic ideal of unity is too minimal, and we should, if possible, aspire for more. Relying on a number of (...)
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  22. Evolutionary models and the normative significance of stability.Arnon Levy - 2018 - Biology and Philosophy 33 (5-6):33.
    Many have expected that understanding the evolution of norms should, in some way, bear on our first-order normative outlook: How norms evolve should shape which norms we accept. But recent philosophy has not done much to shore up this expectation. Most existing discussions of evolution and norms either jump headlong into the is/ought gap or else target meta-ethical issues, such as the objectivity of norms. My aim in this paper is to sketch a different way in which evolutionary considerations can (...)
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  23.  47
    Engineering and Biology: Counsel for a Continued Relationship.Brett Calcott, Arnon Levy, Mark L. Siegal, Orkun S. Soyer & Andreas Wagner - 2015 - Biological Theory 10 (1):50-59.
    Biologists frequently draw on ideas and terminology from engineering. Evolutionary systems biology—with its circuits, switches, and signal processing—is no exception. In parallel with the frequent links drawn between biology and engineering, there is ongoing criticism against this cross-fertilization, using the argument that over-simplistic metaphors from engineering are likely to mislead us as engineering is fundamentally different from biology. In this article, we clarify and reconfigure the link between biology and engineering, presenting it in a more favorable light. We do so (...)
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  24.  65
    Anchoring fictional models: Adam Toon: Models as make-believe. Plagrave-Macmillan, 2012.Arnon Levy - 2013 - Biology and Philosophy 28 (4):693-701.
  25.  48
    Models and Fictions: Not So Similar after All?Arnon Levy - 2020 - Philosophy of Science 87 (5):819-828.
    A number of philosophers draw a close analogy between scientific modeling and fiction, often appealing to Kendall Walton’s make-believe view. I assess the models-fictions analogy from a cognitive a...
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  26.  35
    Fictional Models de Novo and de Re.Arnon Levy - unknown
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  27.  93
    Makes a Difference: Review of Michael Strevens’ Depth: An Account of Scientific Explanation. Harvard University Press, Cambridge, MA, 2008.Arnon Levy - 2011 - Biology and Philosophy 26 (3):459-467.
    Michael Strevens has produced an ambitious and comprehensive new account of scientific explanation. This review discusses its main themes, focusing on regularity explanation and a number of methodological concerns.
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  28.  11
    Bringing thought experiments back into the philosophy of science.Arnon Levy & Adrian Currie - 2024 - Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part A 105 (C):149-157.
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  29.  26
    Molecular-biological machines: a defense.Arnon Levy - 2023 - Biology and Philosophy 38 (5):1-19.
    I offer a defense, albeit a qualified one, of machine analogies in biology, focusing on molecular contexts. The defense is rooted in my prior work (Levy in Philosopher’s Imprint 14(6), 2014), which construes the machine machine-likeness of a system as a matter of the extent to which it exhibits an internal division of labor. A concrete aim is to shore up the notion of molecular biological machines, paying special attention to processive molecular motors, such as Kinesin. But I will also (...)
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  30. What, If anything, Is Biological Altruism?Topaz Halperin & Arnon Levy - forthcoming - British Journal for the Philosophy of Science.
    The study of biological altruism is a cornerstone of modern evolutionary biology. Associated with foundational issues about natural selection, it is often supposed that explaining altruism is key to understanding social behavior more generally. Typically, biological altruism is defined in purely effects-based, behavioral terms – as an interaction in which one organism contributes fitness to another, at its own expense. Crucially, such a definition isn’t meant to rest on psychological or intentional assumptions. We show that, appearances and official definitions notwithstanding, (...)
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  31. Do Bayesian Models of Cognition Show That We Are (Bayes) Rational?Arnon Levy - forthcoming - Philosophy of Science:1-13.
    According to [Bayesian] models” in cognitive neuroscience, says a recent textbook, “the human mind behaves like a capable data scientist”. Do they? That is to say, do such model show we are rational? I argue that Bayesian models of cognition, perhaps surprisingly, do not and indeed cannot, show that we are Bayesian-rational. The key reason is that such models appeal to approximations, a fact that carries significant implications. After outlining the argument, I critique two responses, seen in recent cognitive neuroscience. (...)
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  32. Causal Order and Kinds of Robustness.Arnon Levy - 2017 - In Snait Gissis, Ehud Lamm & Ayelet Shavit (eds.), Landscapes of Collectivity in the Life Sciences. Cambridge, Massachusetts: MIT Press. pp. 269-280.
    This paper derives from a broader project dealing with the notion of causal order. I use this term to signify two kinds of parts-whole dependence: Orderly systems have rich, decomposable, internal structure; specifically, parts play differential roles, and interactions are primarily local. Disorderly systems, in contrast, have a homogeneous internal structure, such that differences among parts and organizational features are less important. Orderliness, I suggest, marks one key difference between individuals and collectives. My focus here will be the connection between (...)
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  33. Biological Machines: A Qualified Defense.Arnon Levy - forthcoming - Biology and Philosophy.
    I offer a defense, albeit a qualified one, of machine analogies in biology, focusing on molecular contexts. The defense is rooted in prior work (Levy 2014), which construes the machine machine-likeness of a system as a matter of the extent to which it exhibits an internal division of labor. A concrete aim is to shore up the notion of molecular biological machines, and I’ll pay special attention to processive molecular motors, such as Kinesin. But I will also try to show (...)
     
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  34. Explaining what? Review of explaining the brain: Mechanisms and the mosaic unity of neuroscience by Carl F. Craver. [REVIEW]Arnon Levy - 2009 - Biology and Philosophy 24 (1):137-145.
    Carl Craver’s recent book offers an account of the explanatory and theoretical structure of neuroscience. It depicts it as centered around the idea of achieving mechanistic understanding, i.e., obtaining knowledge of how a set of underlying components interacts to produce a given function of the brain. Its core account of mechanistic explanation and relevance is causal-manipulationist in spirit, and offers substantial insight into casual explanation in brain science and the associated notion of levels of explanation. However, the focus on mechanistic (...)
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  35.  57
    Marcello Barbieri (2003). The organic codes: An introduction to semantic biology. [REVIEW]Arnon Levy & Eva Jablonka - 2004 - Acta Biotheoretica 52 (1):65-69.
  36.  26
    Review of In Search of Mechanisms - Carl F. Craver and Lindley Darden, In Search of Mechanisms. Chicago: University of Chicago Press (2013), 256 pp., $75.00. [REVIEW]Arnon Levy - 2015 - Philosophy of Science 82 (2):321-325.
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  37.  28
    Marcello Barbieri (2003). The Organic Codes: An Introduction to Semantic Biology. [REVIEW]Arnon Levy & Eva Jablonka - 2004 - Acta Biotheoretica 52 (1):65-69.