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Victor Gijsbers
Leiden University
  1. Understanding, Explanation, and Unification.Victor Gijsbers - 2013 - Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part A 44 (3):516-522.
    In this article I argue that there are two different types of understanding: the understanding we get from explanations, and the understanding we get from unification. This claim is defended by first showing that explanation and unification are not as closely related as has sometimes been thought. A critical appraisal of recent proposals for understanding without explanation leads us to discuss the example of a purely classificatory biology: it turns out that such a science can give us understanding of the (...)
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  2. Why Unification is Neither Necessary nor Sufficient for Explanation.Victor Gijsbers - 2007 - Philosophy of Science 74 (4):481-500.
    In this paper, I argue that unification is neither necessary nor sufficient for explanation. Focusing on the versions of the unificationist theory of explanation of Kitcher and of Schurz and Lambert, I establish three theses. First, Kitcher’s criterion of unification is vitiated by the fact that it entails that every proposition can be explained by itself, a flaw that it is unable to overcome. Second, because neither Kitcher’s theory nor that of Schurz and Lambert can solve the problems of asymmetry (...)
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  3.  72
    How Agency Can Solve Interventionism’s Problem of Circularity.Victor Gijsbers & Leon de Bruin - 2014 - Synthese 191 (8):1-17.
    Woodward’s interventionist theory of causation is beset by a problem of circularity: the analysis of causes is in terms of interventions, and the analysis of interventions is in terms of causes. This is not in itself an argument against the correctness of the analysis. But by requiring us to have causal knowledge prior to making any judgements about causation, Woodward’s theory does make it mysterious how we can ever start acquiring causal knowledge. We present a solution to this problem by (...)
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  4.  63
    Can Probabilistic Coherence Be a Measure of Understanding?Victor Gijsbers - 2015 - Theoria: Revista de Teoría, Historia y Fundamentos de la Ciencia 30 (1):53-71.
    Coherence is a measure of how much our beliefs hang together. Understanding is achieved when we see that something is not just a brute, isolated fact. This suggests that it might be possible to use the extant probabilistic measures of coherence to formulate a measure of understanding. We attempt to do so, but it turns out that a coherence theory runs into trouble with the asymmetry of understanding. We identify four difficulties and show how they have been solved by a (...)
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  5.  39
    Reconciling Contrastive and Non-Contrastive Explanation.Victor Gijsbers - 2018 - Erkenntnis 83 (6):1213-1227.
    Two apparently mutually exclusive ideas about the relation between contrastive and non-contrastive explanations can be found in the literature. According to contrastivists, all explanation is contrastive explanation and the supposed existence of non-contrastive explanations can be revealed to be an illusion. According to non-contrastivists, on the other hand, contrastive explanation can be fully analysed in terms of non-contrastive explanation, and is thus not of fundamental importance. In the current article, I discuss the main arguments in favour of and against each (...)
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  6. The Contingent Law: A Tale of Maxwell's Demon.Victor Gijsbers - manuscript
    In my master's thesis for physics and philosophy, I take a long and hard look at the debates surrounding Maxwell's Demon and the status of the second law of thermodynamics. I try to clarify the use of Maxwell's thought experiment in understanding the second law; to prove that the second law is contingent, given only classical mechanics and time asymmetry; to argue that the law only holds because of facts about the kinds of particles that exist in our universe; to (...)
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  7.  81
    Unification as a Measure of Natural Classification.Victor Gijsbers - 2014 - Theoria : An International Journal for Theory, History and Fundations of Science 29 (1):71-82.
    Recent interest in the idea that there can be scientific understanding without explanation lends new relevance to Duhem's notion of natural classification. According to Duhem, a classification that is natural teaches us something about nature without being explanatory. However, Duhem's conception of naturalness leaves much to be desired. In this paper, I argue that we can measure the naturalness of classification by using an amended version of the notion of unification as defined by Schurz and Lambert. If this thesis is (...)
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  8. Begrijpen in de wetenschap.Victor Gijsbers - 2006 - Algemeen Nederlands Tijdschrift voor Wijsbegeerte 1.
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  9.  38
    Depth: An Account of Scientific Explanation. [REVIEW]Victor Gijsbers - 2008 - International Studies in the Philosophy of Science 23 (2):225 – 228.
  10.  21
    Een spel met de dood.Victor Gijsbers - 2009 - Wijsgerig Perspectief 49 (3):14-21.
    Gevaar – werkelijk gevaar, de dreiging van de dood – maken wij als burgers van een moderne samenleving gelukkig maar weinig mee. Mochten we er al eens mee te maken krijgen, dan is dat meestal in een vorm waarin we machteloos zijn er iets tegen te doen: wanneer ons vliegtuig naar beneden stort, is het de piloot die de stuurknuppel in handen heeft; en wanneer een gezwel in ons lichaam gevonden wordt, zullen we op de oncoloog moeten vertrouwen. Wij strijden (...)
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  11.  7
    How (not) to judge a theory of causation.Victor Gijsbers - forthcoming - Synthese:1-19.
    Philosophical theories of causation are commonly judged by their ability to correctly determine whether there is a causal relation present in intuitively clear example scenarios. If the theories survive this test, they are then used to answer big philosophical questions about causation. This Method of Examples is attractive because it seems to allow us to determine the quality of a theory of causation independently of answering the big philosophical questions; which is good, since it means that we can then non-circularly (...)
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  12.  33
    Is a Coherence Theory of Understanding Possible?Victor Gijsbers - 2015 - Theoria: Revista de Teoría, Historia y Fundamentos de la Ciencia 30 (1):53.
    Coherence is a measure of how much our beliefs hang together. Understanding is achieved when we see that something is not just a brute, isolated fact. This suggests that it might be possible to develop a coherence theory of understanding, which is what we attempt to do in this article using several formal measures of coherence. However, it turns out that a coherence theory runs into trouble with the asymmetry of understanding. We identify four difficulties and give suggestions for how (...)
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    The Paradox of Predictability.Victor Gijsbers - forthcoming - Erkenntnis:1-18.
    Scriven’s paradox of predictability arises from the combination of two ideas: first, that everything in a deterministic universe is, in principle, predictable; second, that it is possible to create a system that falsifies any prediction that is made of it. Recently, the paradox has been used by Rummens and Cuypers to argue that there is a fundamental difference between embedded and external predictors; and by Ismael to argue against a governing conception of laws. The present paper defends a new diagnosis (...)
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  14.  38
    Fading Foundations En Het Conditioneel a Priori.Victor Gijsbers - 2015 - Algemeen Nederlands Tijdschrift voor Wijsbegeerte 107 (2):179-183.
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