The hypothesis that human reasoning and decision-making can be roughly modeled by Expected Utility Theory has been at the core of decision science. Accumulating evidence has led researchers to modify the hypothesis. One of the latest additions to the field is Dual Process theory, which attempts to explain variance between participants and tasks when it comes to deviations from Expected Utility Theory. It is argued that Dual Process theories at this point cannot replace previous theories, since they, among other things, (...) lack a firm conceptual framework, and have no means of producing independent evidence for their case. (shrink)
Accounts of ontic explanation have often been devised so as to provide an understanding of mechanism and of causation. Ontic accounts differ quite radically in their ontologies, and one of the latest additions to this tradition proposed by Peter Machamer, Lindley Darden and Carl Craver reintroduces the concept of activity. In this paper I ask whether this influential and activity-based account of mechanisms is viable as an ontic account. I focus on polygenic scenarios—scenarios in which the causal truths depend on (...) more than one cause. The importance of polygenic causation was noticed early on by Mill (1893). It has since been shown to be a problem for both causal-law approaches to causation (Cartwright 1983) and accounts of causation cast in terms of capacities (Dupré 1993; Glennan 1997, pp. 605-626). However, whereas mechanistic accounts seem to be attractive precisely because they promise to handle complicated causal scenarios, polygenic causation needs to be examined more thoroughly in the emerging literature on activity-based mechanisms. The activity-based account proposed in Machamer et al. (2000, pp. 1-25) is problematic as an ontic account, I will argue. It seems necessary to ask, of any ontic account, how well it performs in causal situations where—at the explanandum level of mechanism—no activity occurs. In addition, it should be asked how well the activity-based account performs in situations where there are too few activities around to match the polygenic causal origin of the explanandum. The first situation presents an explanandum-problem and the second situation presents an explanans-problem—I will argue—both of which threaten activity-based frameworks. (shrink)
Traditionally, interdisciplinarity has been taken to require conceptual or theoretical integration. However, in the emerging field of sustainability science this kind of integration is often lacking. Indeed sometimes it is regarded as an obstacle to interdisciplinarity. Drawing on examples from sustainability science, we show that problem-feeding, i.e. the transfer of problems, is a common and fruitful-looking way of connecting disparate disciplines and establishing interdisciplinarity. We identify two species of problem-feeding: unilateral and bilateral. Which of these is at issue depends on (...) whether solutions to the problem are fed back to the discipline in which the problem originated. We suggest that there is an interesting difference between the problem-feeding approach to interdisciplinarity and the traditional integrative perspective suggested by among others Erich Jantsch and his colleagues. The interdisciplinarity resulting from problem-feeding between researchers can be local and temporary and does not require collaboration between proximate disciplines. By contrast, to make good sense of traditional integrative interdisciplinarity we must arguably associate it with a longer-term, global form of close, interdisciplinary collaboration. (shrink)
The possibility of apparently negative causation has been discussed in a number of recent works on causation, but the discussion has suffered from being scattered. In this paper, the problem of apparently negative causation and its attempted solutions are examined in more detail. I discuss and discard three attempts that have been suggested in the literature. My conclusion is negative: Negative causation shows that the traditional cause & effect view is inadequate. A more unified causal perspective is needed.
This paper is an attempt to further our understanding of mechanisms conceived of as ontologically separable from laws. What opportunities are there for a mechanistic perspective to be independent of, or even more fundamental than, a law perspective? Advocates of the mechanistic view often play with the possibility of internal and external reliability, or with the paralleling possibilities of enforcing, counteracting, redirecting, etc., the mechanisms’ power to produce To further this discussion I adopt a trope ontology. It is independent of (...) the notion of law, and can easily be adapted to account for such characteristics of mechanisms. The idea of tropes as mechanisms is worked out in some detail. According to the resulting picture, there is still an opportunity to link mechanisms and laws. But while the predominant law view conceives of mechanistic approaches as special kinds of law accounts, this study indicates that the converse may be true. Law accounts are special cases of mechanistic accounts, and they work only in those worlds where the mechanisms are of the right kind. (shrink)
Uncertainty, insufficient information or information of poor quality, limited cognitive capacity and time, along with value conflicts and ethical considerations, are all aspects thatmake risk managementand riskcommunication difficult. This paper provides a review of different risk concepts and describes how these influence risk management, communication and planning in relation to forest ecosystem services. Based on the review and results of empirical studies, we suggest that personal assessment of risk is decisive in the management of forest ecosystem services. The results are (...) used together with a reviewof different principles of the distribution of risk to propose an approach to risk communication that is effective aswell as ethically sound. Knowledge of heuristics and mutual information on both beliefs and desires are important in the proposed risk communication approach. Such knowledge provides an opportunity for relevant information exchange, so that gaps in personal knowledge maps can be filled in and effective risk communication can be promoted. (shrink)
The paper discusses the concept of explanation in metaphysics. Different types of explanation are identified and explored. Scientific explanation is compared with metaphysical explanation. The comparison illustrates the difficulties with applying the concept of explanation in metaphysics.
Arguments from explanation, i.e. arguments in which the explanatory value of a hypothesis or premise is appealed to, are common in science, and explanatory considerations are becoming more popular in metaphysics. The paper begins by arguing that explanatory arguments in scienceâ€”even when these are metaphysical explanationsâ€” may fail to be explanatory in metaphysics; there is a distinction to be drawn between metaphysical explanation and explanation in metaphysics. This makes it potentially problematic to deploy arguments from explanation in, for instance, metaphysics (...) of science. Part of this problem has its source in that the explanatory concept differs between contexts. The paper discusses a few explanatory concepts and their corresponding arguments from explanation. Towards the end of the paper, I identify two allegedly explanatory arguments in metaphysical discourse by the concluding decisions they give rise to: the rejection of X as a metaphysical fact if X does not explain anything (the argument from explanatory inability) and the rejection of X as a metaphysical fact if X can be non-metaphysically explained (the argument from the non-metaphysically explained). I ask: What kind of concept of explanation do these arguments rely upon, and is that concept suited to the metaphysical task? Two recent examples of these arguments are used as illustration. The preliminary conclusion is that several of the strengths of arguments from explanation in science seem not to be present in metaphysical contexts. (shrink)
One way to bring order into the often muddled picture we have of interdisciplinarity is to sort interdisciplinary projects or aims by the kinds of element that interact in encounters between researchers of the two or more disciplines involved. This is not the usual approach. Since the early seventies and the publication of Erich Jantsch , at least, the level of integration of the disciplines has been the primary focus. For instance, the level of integration is often treated as the (...) distinguishing boundary between multi‐, inter‐, and trans‐disciplinarity. We identify three kinds of interdisciplinary relation: problem‐feeding, conceptual drift, and methodological migration; we focus, in particular, on the first of these. Drawing on examples from the emerging field of Sustainability Science we show that problem‐feeding is a common and apparently fruitful way of connecting disparate disciplines. We illustrate some of the roles conceptual drift and methodological migration have in problem‐feeding as well as in their own right. Towards the end of the paper we suggest that there is an interesting difference between our approach to interdisciplinarity and the integrative perspective suggested by Jantsch. The interdisciplinarity resulting from problem‐feeding between researchers is typically local and temporary; integration is associated with a longer‐term, global form of interdisciplinarity. (shrink)
BACKGROUND: Representing is about theories and theory formation. Philosophy of science has a long-standing interest in representing. At least since Ian Hacking's modern classic Representing and Intervening analytical philosophers have struggled to combine that interest with a study of the roles of intervention studies. With few exceptions this focus of philosophy of science has been on physics and other natural sciences. In particular, there have been few attempts to analyse the use of the notion of intervention in other disciplines where (...) intervention studies are important, such as in nursing research. One unintended consequence of this is that the relations between representing and intervening tend to be less understood outside the natural sciences. OBJECTIVES AND DESIGN: This article highlights a number of possible topics on which nursing science and analytic philosophy of science can fruitfully interact. The basic idea is simple. Building on a characterisation of interventions in terms of what is intervened on and with respect to what, we suggest that interventions in nursing research typically are a blend of varieties belonging to the three dimensions of agency, epistemology, and ontology. The details of the blend determine the relation of the particular intervention study to traditional representational categories such as inductivism and hypothetico-deductive method, and have a bearing on its explanatory power and other more theory independent features of research as well. The framework we suggest should be relevant for nurse researchers who want to adopt a more general and analytically entrenched perspective on representing and intervening than the methodological boundaries in nursing research typically allow. (shrink)
Philosophers of science have often favoured reductive approaches to how-possibly explanation. This article identifies three alternative conceptions making how-possibly explanation an interesting phenomenon in its own right. The first variety approaches “how possibly X?” by showing that X is not epistemically impossible. This can sometimes be achieved by removing misunderstandings concerning the implications of one’s current belief system but involves characteristically a modification of this belief system so that acceptance of X does not result in contradiction. The second variety offers (...) a potential how-explanation of X. It is usually followed by a range of further potential how-explanations of the same phenomenon. In recent literature the factual claims implied by the second variety have been downplayed whereas the heuristic role of mapping the space of conceptual possibilities has been emphasized. I will focus especially on this truth-bracketing sense of potentiality when looking closer at the second variety in the paper. The third variety has attracted less interest. It presents a partial how-explanation of X. Typically it aims to establish the existence of a mechanism by which X could be and was generated. The third conception stands out as the natural alternative for the advocate of ontic how-possibly explanations. This article transfers Salmon’s view that explanation-concepts can be broadly divided into epistemic, modal, and ontic to the context of how-possibly explanations. Moreover, it is argued that each of the three above-mentioned varieties of how-possibly explanation occurs in science. To recognize this may be especially relevant for philosophers. We are often misled by the promises of various why-explanation accounts, and seem to have forgotten nearly everything about the diversity of how-possibly explanations. (shrink)
Semmelweis’s work predates the discovery of the power of randomization in medicine by almost a century. Although Semmelweis would not have consciously used a randomized controlled trial (RCT), some features of his material—the allocation of patients to the first and second clinics—did involve what was in fact a randomization, though this was not realised at the time. This article begins by explaining why Semmelweis’s methodology, nevertheless, did not amount to the use of a RCT. It then shows why it is (...) descriptively and normatively interesting to compare what he did with the modern approach using RCTs. The argumentation centres on causal inferences and the contrast between Semmelweis’s causal concept and that deployed by many advocates of RCTs. It is argued that Semmelweis’s approach has implications for matters of explanation and medical practice. (shrink)
Researchers often aim to make correct inferences both about that which is actually studied and about what the results generalize to. The language of internal and external validity is not used by everyone, but many of us would agree that intuitively the distinction makes a lot of sense. Two claims are commonly made with respect to internal and external validity. The first is that internal validity is prior to external validity since there is nothing to generalize if the findings obtained (...) in, for instance, the experimental setting do not hold. The first claim is explicit in many writings. See for instance Francisco Guala’s influential book The methodology of experimental economics. And it is often implicitly relied on. The second claim is that researchers have to make a trade-off between internal and external validity. When one is increased, the other will decrease. The second claim was made already from the start by D.T Campbell in his classic Factors relevant to the validity of experiments in social settings. There is a certain tension between the first and the second claim. It has been argued before that it might be difficult to combine them. We intend to make the stronger point that both claims are misconstrued. Our hypothesis is that the relationship between internal and external validity has to be re-conceptualized, and we will briefly indicate how. (shrink)
Background Positivism is sometimes rejected for the wrong reasons. Influential textbooks on nursing research and in other disciplines tend to reinforce the misconceptions underlying these rejections. This is problematic, since it provides students of these disciplines with a poor basis for making epistemological and methodological decisions. It is particularly common for positivist views on reality and causation to be obscured. Objectives and design The first part of this discussion paper identifies and explains the misconceptions about positivism as they appear in (...) two influential textbooks. The second part pinpoints five mistakes these misconceptions easily result in when the researcher adopts an epistemological and methodological standpoint. What is already known about the topic? There are several impeccable descriptions of positivism in nursing research literature; but a relatively large number of inaccurate or confused views of positivism appear in the nursing research literature as well. Mistakes of the kind identified in this paper have been noted before—for instance, in Shadish. What this paper adds: This paper provides a detailed analysis of two particularly common and influential misconceptions about positivism. It traces the historical roots of these misconceptions and characterizes them more carefully than many earlier attempts have done. The paper shows how and why these misconceptions affect epistemological and methodological decisions negatively, regardless of one’s interest in positivism. (shrink)
The thesis addresses the nature of causation. It is argued that causation exists and is as local as its causes and effects. As a consequence, the position advocated is contrary to the as yet prevailing view that no 'causal tie' between cause and effect exists. Moreover, it is suggested that this tie can be perceived. The essay attempts to elucidate the nature of causes, effects, and causal mechanisms. It is argued that they are facts rather than particulars or universals. Furthermore (...) it is suggested that these facts can be conceived of as tropes. Finally, in the light of this thesis a few traditional issues are discussed: what is the relation between causation and explanation? How should we conceive of causal laws? Does the idea of mechanisms with different degrees of reliability further our understanding of the determinism/indeterminism issue? (shrink)
We show that the common claim that internal validity should be understood as prior to external validity has, at least, three epistemologically problematic aspects: experimental artefacts, the implications of causal relations, and how the mechanism is measured. Each aspect demonstrates how important external validity is for the internal validity of the experimental result.
The paper is concerned with the existence of objective uncertainties. What would it take for objective uncertainties to exist, and what would be the consequences for our understanding of the world we live in? We approach these questions by considering two common theories on how we are to understand the being of propensities and how it pertains to possible outcomes that remain unmanifested. It is argued that both or these theories should be rejected, and be replaced with a theory we (...) call unrestricted actualism according to which the possible outcomes of propensities are denizens of the actual world. (shrink)
This volume contains essays by five British philosophers and one Swedish philosopher working in metaphysics and in particular metaphysics as it relates to the philosophy of science. These philosophers are the core of a tight network of European philosophers of science and metaphysicians and their essays have evolved as a result of workshops in Lund, Edinburgh, and Athens.
Sometimes instances of perceived causation turn out to lack causal relata. The reasons may vary. Causation may display itself as prevention, or as omission, and in some cases causation occurs within such complex environments that few of the things we associate with causes and effects are true of them, etc. But even then, there may be causal explanations to be had. This suggests that the explanatory power of causal reports have other sources than the relation between cause and effect. In (...) this paper it is argued that the causal mechanisms we allude to in explanations have relevant determinables other than the traditionally acknowledged ones. The traditional but in this aspect mistaken view of causation is to be blamed. Discernability, complexity of manifestation, originality, and even stability have often been overlooked. We know, that, in fact, heat is a constant attendant of flame; but what is the connexion between them, we have no room so much as to conjecture or imagine. (Hume 1777, VII. 2, 64). (shrink)
A key question for evidence-based medicine is how best to model the way in which EBM should “[integrate] individual clinical expertise and the best external evidence”. We argue that the formulations and models available in the literature today are modest variations on a common theme and face very similar problems. For example, both the early and updated models of evidence-based clinical decisions presented in Haynes, Devereaux and Guyatt assume that EBM consists of, among other things, evidence from clinical research and (...) clinical expertise. On this A-view, EBM describes all that goes on in a specific justifiable medical decision. There is, however, an alternative interpretation of EBM, the B-view, in which EBM describes just one component of the decision situation and in which, together with other types of evidence, EBM leads to a justifiable clincial decision but does not describe the decision itself. This B-view is inspired by a 100-years older version of EBM, a Swedish standard requiring medical decision-making and practice to be in accordance with ‘science and proven experience’. In the paper we outline how the Swedish concept leads to an improved understanding of the way in which scientific evidence and clinical experience can and cannot be integrated in light of EBM. In addition the paper sketches the as yet unexplored historical background to EBM. (shrink)
Jon Elster worries about the explanatory power of the social sciences. His main concern is that they have so few well-established laws. Elster develops an interesting substitute: a special kind of mechanism designed to fill the explanatory gap between laws and mere description. However, his mechanisms suffer from a characteristic problem that I will explore in this article. As our causal knowledge of a specific problem grows we might come to know too much to make use of an Elsterian mechanism (...) but still lack a law. We might then find ourselves in the paradoxical position of knowing more relevant causal truths about the phenomenon we are interested in than we did before, but being able to explain less. If this possibility is realized in social science settings, as I argue it might well be, Elster?s mechanistic account is threatened. Moreover, even if the possibility is rarely realized in that way, it raises, simply as a possibility, a conceptual problem with Elster?s mechanistic framework. (shrink)
in Undetermined Table d’Hôte Ingar Brinck: Investigating the development of creativity: The Sahlin hypothesis 7 Linus Broström: Known unknowns and proto-second-personal address in photographic art 25 Johan Brännmark: Critical moral thinking without moral theory 33 Martin Edman: Vad är ett missförhållande? 43 Pascal Engel: Rambling on the value of truth 51 Peter Gärdenfors: Ambiguity in decision making and the fear of being fooled 75 Göran Hermerén: NIPT: Ethical aspects 89 Mats Johansson: Roboethics: What problems should be addressed and why? 103 (...) Johan Laserna: Ambivalenta bilder 113 Anna-Sofia Maurin: Metaphysical explanation 161 Kevin Mulligan: Is preference primitive? 169 John D. Norton: How does your garden grow? 181 Johannes Persson & Annika Wallin: The distinction between internal and external validity 187 Johanna Seibt: Becoming our selves 197 Paul Slovic, Robin Gregory, David Frank, and Daniel Vastfjall: Confronting the collapse of humanitarian values in foreignpolicy decision making 209 Peter Sylwan: Det eviga livet 215 Claudine Tiercelin: Chance, love and logic: Ramsey and Peirce on norms, rationality and the conduct of life 221 Epilog 257 Frank Ramsey. (shrink)
Polygenic effects have more than one cause. They testify to the fact that several causal contributors are sometimes simultaneously involved in causation. The importance of polygenic causation was noticed early on by Mill (1893). It has since been shown to be a problem for causal-law approaches to causation and accounts of causation cast in terms of capacities. However, polygenic causation needs to be examined more thoroughly in the emerging literature on causal mechanisms. In this paper I examine whether an influential (...) theory of mechanisms proposed by Peter Machamer, Lindley Darden and Carl Craver can accommodate polygenic effects and other forms of causal interaction. This theory is problematic, I will argue, because it ascribes a central role to activities. In it, activities are needed not only to constitute mechanisms but also to perform the causal role of mechanisms. Any such mechanism-as-activity will be incompatible with causal situations where either no or merely another kind of activity occurs. But, as I will try to illustrate in this paper, both kinds of situation may be frequent. If I am right, the view that Machamer and colleagues suggest leads to an impoverished conception of mechanism. (shrink)
Isaac Levi is more interested in inquiry and how it progresses than he is in metaphysics. Questions concerning the role of disposition predicates in inquiry are more central to him than those concerning the nature and reality of dispositions. It has not stopped him from giving me and others very useful metaphysical advice. Currently, where empirical metaphysics is in vogue, there is every reason to see whether the two forms of philosophical interest might interlock substantially. Levi has stimulating ideas indeed (...) on the two forms of philosophical interest, and has recently summarized them in the slogan: “The reality of dispositions is a work in progress”. We can learn much about what kinds of dispositions are acceptable from tracing and comparing the histories of successful and less successful disposition predicates in scientific inquiry. Levi explores one route along which dispositions become real. His idea is that the introduction of dispositions facilitates covering law explanation by increasing the number of laws. The successful disposition predicate eventually becomes integrated in scientific theory, much like an ordinary theoretical term, whereas the unsuccessful does not. My impression is that Levi thinks that this is the only way a disposition can become real. To evaluate this claim, an alternative course suggested by Jon Elster is introduced. I then try to bring out the differences between Levi's and Elster's views on dispositions, partly by suggesting that they resemble two aspects of full explanations discussed by Wesley Salmon. But more about that below. (shrink)
Knowledge of factors that trigger human response to climate change is crucial for effective climate change policy communication. Climate change has been claimed to have low salience as a risk issue because it cannot be directly experienced. Still, personal factors such as strength of belief in local effects of climate change have been shown to correlate strongly with responses to climate change and there is a growing literature on the hypothesis that personal experience of climate change explains responses to climate (...) change. Here we provide, using survey data from 845 private forest owners operating in a wide range of bio-climatic as well as economic-social-political structures in a latitudinal gradient across Europe, the first evidence that the personal strength of belief and perception of local effects of climate change, highly significantly explain human responses to climate change. A logistic regression model was fitted to the two variables, estimating expected probabilities ranging from 0.07 to 0.81 for self-reported adaptive measures taken. Adding socio-demographic variables improved the fit, estimating expected probabilities ranging from 0.022 to 0.91. We conclude that to explain and predict adaptation to climate change, the combination of personal experience and belief must be considered. (shrink)
A key question for evidence-based medicine is how best to model the way in which EBM should‘[integrate] individual clinical expertise and the best external evidence’. We argue that the formulations and models available in the literature today are modest variations on a common theme and face very similar problems when it comes to risk analysis, which is here understood as a decision procedure comprising a factual assessment of risk, the risk assessment, and the decision what to do based on this (...) assessment, the risk management. Both the early and updated models of evidence-based clinical decisions presented in the writings of Haynes, Devereaux and Guyatt assume that EBM consists of, among other things, evidence from clinical research together with information about patients’ values and clinical expertise. On this A-view, EBM describes all that goes on in a specific justifiable medical decision. There is, however, an alternative interpretation of EBM, the B-view, in which EBM describes just one component of the decision situation and in which, together with other types of evidence, EBM leads to a justifiable clincial decision but does not describe the decision itself. This B-view is inspired by a 100-years older version of EBM, a Swedish standard requiring medical decision-making, professional risk-taking and practice to be in accordance with‘science and proven experience’. In the paper, we outline how the Swedish concept leads to an improved understanding of the way in which scientific evidence and clinical experience can and cannot be integrated in light of EBM. How scientific evidence and clinical experience is integrated influences both the way we do risk assessment and risk management. In addition, the paper sketches the as yet unexplored historical background to VBE and EBM. (shrink)
Resilience is often promoted as a boundary concept to integrate the social and natural dimensions of sustainability. However, it is a troubled dialogue from which social scientists may feel detached. To explain this, we first scrutinize the meanings, attributes, and uses of resilience in ecology and elsewhere to construct a typology of definitions. Second, we analyze core concepts and principles in resilience theory that cause disciplinary tensions between the social and natural sciences. Third, we provide empirical evidence of the asymmetry (...) in the use of resilience theory in ecology and environmental sciences compared to five relevant social science disciplines. Fourth, we contrast the unification ambition in resilience theory with methodological pluralism. Throughout, we develop the argument that incommensurability and unification constrain the interdisciplinary dialogue, whereas pluralism drawing on core social scientific concepts would better facilitate integrated sustainability research. (shrink)
According to Jon Elster, mechanisms are frequently occurring and easily recognizable causal patterns that are triggered under generally unknown conditions or with indeterminate consequences. In the absence of laws, moreover, mechanisms provide explanations. In this paper I argue that Elster’s view has difficulties with progressing knowledge. Normally, filling in the causal picture without revising it should not threaten one’s explanation. But this seems to be Elster’s case. The critique is constructive in the sense that it is built up from a (...) discussion of a mechanism that might explain ‘unwarranted’ risk taking in connection with swimming—a mechanism that is mirrored in the proverb: The best swimmers drown. (shrink)
In this article I examine whether an influential theory of mechanisms proposed by Peter Machamer, Lindley Darden and Carl Craver can accommodate polygenic effects. This theory is both interesting and problematic, I will argue, because it ascribes a central role to activities. In it, activities are needed not only to constitute mechanisms but also to perform their causal role. These putative functions of activities become problematic in certain situations where several causes or elements of a mechanism contribute simultaneously, i.e. with (...) certain forms of polygenic causation. The problematic form of polygeny, polygeny 2, occurs when the polygenic contribution concerns one and the same property or aspect of the affected object. When the result of such causation is that nothing happens, the theory suggested by Machamer and his colleagues cannot be applied. More generally, it seems that, whenever polygeny 2 is involved, the Machamer approach leads to an impoverished conception of mechanism. (shrink)
THERE WAS A TIME when many philosophers agreed that metaphysics was dead. Anyone aquatinted with the works of D.H. Mellor knows that the subject is alive and well. Two young philosophers who are familiar with his work, Anna-Sofia Maurin and Johannes Persson, met him in Cambrige for an interview.