A number of philosophers have recently suggested that some abstract, plausibly non-causal and/or mathematical, explanations explain in a way that is radically different from the way causal explanation explain. Namely, while causal explanations explain by providing information about causal dependence, allegedly some abstract explanations explain in a way tied to the independence of the explanandum from the microdetails, or causal laws, for example. We oppose this recent trend to regard abstractions as explanatory in some sui generis way, and argue that (...) a prominent account of causal explanation can be naturally extended to capture explanations that radically abstract away from microphysical and causal nomogical details. To this end, we distinguish different senses in which an explanation can be more or less abstract, and analyse the connection between explanations’ abstractness and their explanatory power. According to our analysis abstract explanations have much in common with counterfactual causal explanations. (shrink)
I shall briefly evaluate the common claim that ethically acceptable population policies must let individuals to decide freely on the number of their children. I shall ask, first, what exactly is the relation between population policies that we find intuitively appealing, on the one hand, and population policies that maximize procreative freedom, on the other, and second, what is the relation between population policies that we tend to reject on moral grounds, on the one hand, and population policies that use (...) coercive methods such as laws or economic incentives and deterrents, on the other. I shall argue that when changing a population policy, it may be morally desirable to affect people's procreative decisions more rather than less, and that sometimes it may be morally desirable to prefer a population policy that does not maximize procreative freedom to a population policy that does maximize it. I shall also point out that indirect population policies that use incentives and deterrents are not necessarily incompatible with liberal principles. Finally, I try to show what is assumed by those who defend the view that coercive population policies are morally wrong in all circumstances. (shrink)
In this paper I will discuss the causes of global inequality. I will argue that there may be other important reasons for poverty than Western selfishness. Further, I will claim that most Western people believe that for one reason or another it is practically impossible to eradicate poverty, and that this shared belief itself may be a cause for why it is practically impossible to eradicate it in the near future. The question is about an unfortunate self-fulfilling prophecy. In my (...) view, it is important to consider the background and logic of this prophecy. (shrink)
Imagine yourself standing on the edge of a canyon, marveling at the terrain below, wondering about all the sights currently obscured from your view, and lamenting that you just don’t have time to commit to the steep descent in and long trek across, which would give you a perspective from right up close. Being handed Juha Räikkä’s new book Social Justice in Practice is like being told there’s a flying fox you can take: the canyon is applied political theory, (...) and the flying fox allows the reader to see many different issues, at some speed, and always with the wider context in view. Tuck your loose items of clothing away in your bags, and hop on.The book is loosely organized into six sections, with twelve chapters overall. The first two sections (“Theory and Practice” and “Action and Uncertainty”) introduce readers to the issues around the methodology of contemporary political theory, from whether the arguments of political theory should be more sensitive to what is feasible, through the. (shrink)
In Social Justice in Practice, Juha Räikkä addresses a wide variety of subjects, tackling each one with competence and originality. The twelve essays collected in the book cover topics such as the relationship between theory and practice, the impact of “ideal justice” and its requirements on individuals’ expectations, the difficulties connected to the selection of second-best options and the role of presumption rules. In addition, Räikkä focuses on conspiracy theories, on the right to privacy, on the possibility of concealing (...) information in social relations, as well as on the moral dilemmas connected to “alien beliefs”, namely beliefs beyond individuals’ self-awareness and conflicting with their considered judgments. He also discusses the fairness of demanding forgiveness and clarifies the notion of self-deception, by investigating its connection with adaptive preferences and religious beliefs. Räikkä makes each topic accessible and appealing also to readers unfamiliar with them. Moreo .. (shrink)
This short article discusses the nature of research and art practice and makes a case for the necessary intermingling of these activities. It does not attempt to define a space for art to operate as research, quite the opposite: research is an operating structure for the process and production of, among other things, art. It is regarded as integral to the processes of thinking, making, and reflecting, and it is important to note that curiosity, creative enquiry, and critical reflection underpin (...) much that is considered research in various fields. The author asserts that these processes are not necessarily discipline-specific although particular disciplines have specific procedures and goals. It is argued that "provisionality" is central to what art can offer other disciplines; it can make a virtue of incompleteness. The author suggests that art open itself up to quizzical scrutiny and help others to recognise that research has long been, and will continue to be, a driving force within its makeup. The article posits an expanded notion of the artwork that is essentially provisional and reliant on spectatorial involvement. (shrink)
This is an introduction to the volume "Explanation Beyond Causation: Philosophical Perspectives on Non-Causal Explanations", edited by A. Reutlinger and J. Saatsi (OUP, forthcoming in 2017). -/- 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 have recently begun to break with this causal tradition by shifting their focus to kinds of explanation that do not turn on causal information. The increasing recognition of the importance of such non-causal explanations in the sciences and elsewhere raises pressing questions for philosophers of explanation. What is the nature of non-causal explanations - and which theory best captures it? How do non-causal explanations relate to causal ones? How are non-causal explanations in the sciences related to those in mathematics and metaphysics? This volume of new essays explores answers to these and other questions at the heart of contemporary philosophy of explanation. The essays address these questions from a variety of perspectives, including general accounts of non-causal and causal explanations, as well as a wide range of detailed case studies of non-causal explanations from the sciences, mathematics and metaphysics. (shrink)
The Enhanced Indispensability Argument (Baker [ 2009 ]) exemplifies the new wave of the indispensability argument for mathematical Platonism. The new wave capitalizes on mathematics' role in scientific explanations. I will criticize some analyses of mathematics' explanatory function. In turn, I will emphasize the representational role of mathematics, and argue that the debate would significantly benefit from acknowledging this alternative viewpoint to mathematics' contribution to scientific explanations and knowledge.
The literature on the indispensability argument for mathematical realism often refers to the ‘indispensable explanatory role’ of mathematics. I argue that we should examine the notion of explanatory indispensability from the point of view of specific conceptions of scientific explanation. The reason is that explanatory indispensability in and of itself turns out to be insufficient for justifying the ontological conclusions at stake. To show this I introduce a distinction between different kinds of explanatory roles—some ‘thick’ and ontologically committing, others ‘thin’ (...) and ontologically peripheral—and examine this distinction in relation to some notable ‘ontic’ accounts of explanation. I also discuss the issue in the broader context of other ‘explanationist’ realist arguments. (shrink)
I review prominent historical arguments against scientific realism to indicate how they display a systematic overshooting in the conclusions drawn from the historical evidence. The root of the overshooting can be located in some critical, undue presuppositions regarding realism. I will highlight these presuppositions in connection with both Laudan’s ‘Old induction’ and Stanford’s New induction, and then delineate a minimal realist view that does without the problematic presuppositions.
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.
I examine explanations’ realist commitments in relation to dynamical systems theory. First I rebut an ‘explanatory indispensability argument’ for mathematical realism from the explanatory power of phase spaces (Lyon and Colyvan 2007). Then I critically consider a possible way of strengthening the indispensability argument by reference to attractors in dynamical systems theory. The take-home message is that understanding of the modal character of explanations (in dynamical systems theory) can undermine platonist arguments from explanatory indispensability.
We study the expressive power of open formulas of dependence logic introduced in Väänänen [Dependence logic (Vol. 70 of London Mathematical Society Student Texts), 2007]. In particular, we answer a question raised by Wilfrid Hodges: how to characterize the sets of teams definable by means of identity only in dependence logic, or equivalently in independence friendly logic.
Model theoretic considerations purportedly show that a certain version of structural realism, one which articulates the nvtion of structure via Ramsey sentences, is in fact trivially true. In this paper we argue that the structural realist is by no means forced to Ramseyfy in the manner assumed in the formal proof. However, the structural realist's reprise is short-lived. For, as we show, there are related versions of the model theoretic argument which cannot be so easily blocked by the structural realist. (...) We examine various ways in which the structural realist may respond, and conclude that the best way of blocking the model theoretic argument involves formulating his Ramseyfied theories using intensional operators. Introduction The model theoretic arguments On Ramseyfying away predicates The model theoretic argument bites back Restricting the second order quantifiers 5.1 Naturalness 5.2 Intrinsic 5.3 Qualitative 5.4 Contingent and causal Intensional operators and relations between properties Conclusion. (shrink)
This article argues that previous research on the outcomes of corporate responsibility should be refined in two ways. First, although there is abundant research that addresses the link between corporate responsibility (CR) and financial performance, hardly any studies scrutinize whether the type of corporate responsibility makes a difference to this link. Second, while the majority of CR research conducted within business studies concentrates on the financial outcomes for the firm, the societal outcomes of CR are left largely unexplored. To tackle (...) these two deficiencies, this article extends the different conceptualizations of corporate responsibility and elaborates both the financial and the societal outcomes of different types of CR. (shrink)
The central concern of this article is whether the semantic approach has the resources to appropriately capture the core tenets of structural realism. Chakravartty (2001) has argued that a realist notion of correspondence cannot be accommodated without introducing a linguistic component, which undermines the approach itself. We suggest that this worry can be addressed by an appropriate understanding of the role of language in this context. The real challenge, however, is how to incorporate the core notion of `explanatory approximate truth' (...) in such a way that the emphasis on structure is retained. (shrink)
The Pessimistic Induction from falsity of past theories forms a perennial argument against scientific realism. This paper considers and rebuts two recent arguments—due to Lewis (2001) and Lange (2002)—to the conclusion that the Pessimistic Induction (in its best known form) is fallacious. It re-establishes the dignity of the Pessimistic Induction by calling to mind the basic objective of the argument, and hence restores the propriety of the realist program of responding to PMI by undermining one or another of its premises.
We reassess Woodward’s counterfactual account of explanation in relation to regularity explananda. Woodward presents an account of causal explanation. We argue, by using an explanation of Kleiber’s law to illustrate, that the account can also cover some noncausal explanations. This leads to a tension between the two key aspects of Woodward’s account: the counterfactual aspect and the causal aspect. We explore this tension and make a case for jettisoning the causal aspect as constitutive of explanatory power in connection with regularity (...) explananda. (shrink)
A number of philosophers have recently suggested that some abstract, plausibly non-causal and/or mathematical, explanations explain in a way that is radically dif- ferent from the way causal explanation explain. Namely, while causal explanations explain by providing information about causal dependence, allegedly some abstract explanations explain in a way tied to the independence of the explanandum from the microdetails, or causal laws, for example. We oppose this recent trend to regard abstractions as explanatory in some sui generis way, and argue (...) that a prominent ac- count of causal explanation can be naturally extended to capture explanations that radically abstract away from microphysical and causal-nomological details. To this end, we distinguish di erent senses in which an explanation can be more or less abstract, and analyse the connection between explanations’ abstractness and their explanatory power. According to our analysis abstract explanations have much in common with counterfactual causal explanations. (shrink)
Advocates of scientic realism typically respond to the challenge of the pessimistic meta-induction by turning to the history of science. The episode most frequently discussed is the shift from Fresnel's wave theory of light to Maxwell's electromagnetism. This particular history is taken to represent one of the hardest problems for the realist, for while it exhibits continuity on the empirical level, it simultaneously represents a dramatic shift in ontology. Thus, various authors have proposed methods for defeating the pessimistic meta-induction based (...) solely on consideration of the Fresnel-Maxwell case. In this paper, I present another case study from physics--Fermi's 1934 theory of beta-decay and the ensuing search for a universal description of weak interactions. I argue that the degree of success of two recent proposals for scientic realism--that of John Worrall (1989, 1994, 2007) and Juha Saatsi (2005)--changes importantly in light of this new case study. (shrink)
This paper takes another look at a case study which has featured prominently in a variety of arguments for rival realist positions. After critically reviewing the previous commentaries of the theory shift that took place in the transition from Fresnel’s ether to Maxwell’s electromagnetic theory of optics, it will defend a slightly different reading of this historical case study. Central to this task is the notion of explanatory approximate truth, a concept which must be carefully analysed to begin with. With (...) this notion properly understood, it will be finally argued, the popular Fresnel-Maxwell case study points towards a novel formulation of scientific realism. (shrink)
Kirchhoff’s diffraction theory is introduced as a new case study in the realism debate. The theory is extremely successful despite being both inconsistent and not even approximately true. Some habitual realist proclamations simply cannot be maintained in the face of Kirchhoff’s theory, as the realist is forced to acknowledge that theoretical success can in some circumstances be explained in terms other than truth. The idiosyncrasy (or otherwise) of Kirchhoff’s case is considered.