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Wolfgang Pietsch
Technische Universität München
  1. The Causal Nature of Modeling with Big Data.Wolfgang Pietsch - 2016 - Philosophy and Technology 29 (2):137-171.
    I argue for the causal character of modeling in data-intensive science, contrary to widespread claims that big data is only concerned with the search for correlations. After discussing the concept of data-intensive science and introducing two examples as illustration, several algorithms are examined. It is shown how they are able to identify causal relevance on the basis of eliminative induction and a related difference-making account of causation. I then situate data-intensive modeling within a broader framework of an epistemology of scientific (...)
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  2.  19
    A Causal Approach to Analogy.Wolfgang Pietsch - 2019 - Journal for General Philosophy of Science / Zeitschrift für Allgemeine Wissenschaftstheorie 50 (4):489-520.
    Analogical reasoning addresses the question how evidence from various phenomena can be combined and made relevant for theory development and prediction. In the first part of my contribution, I review some influential accounts of analogical reasoning, both historical and contemporary, focusing in particular on Keynes, Carnap, Hesse, and more recently Bartha. In the second part, I sketch a general framework. To this purpose, a distinction between a predictive and a conceptual type of analogical reasoning is introduced. I then take up (...)
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  3.  63
    Aspects of Theory-Ladenness in Data-Intensive Science.Wolfgang Pietsch - 2015 - Philosophy of Science 82 (5):905-916.
    Recent claims, mainly from computer scientists, concerning a largely automated and model-free data-intensive science have been countered by critical reactions from a number of philosophers of science. The debate suffers from a lack of detail in two respects, regarding the actual methods used in data-intensive science and the specific ways in which these methods presuppose theoretical assumptions. I examine two widely-used algorithms, classificatory trees and non-parametric regression, and argue that these are theory-laden in an external sense, regarding the framing of (...)
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  4.  50
    The Structure of Causal Evidence Based on Eliminative Induction.Wolfgang Pietsch - 2014 - Topoi 33 (2):421-435.
    It is argued that in deterministic contexts evidence for causal relations states whether a boundary condition makes a difference or not to a phenomenon. In order to substantiate the analysis, I show that this difference/indifference making is the basic type of evidence required for eliminative induction in the tradition of Francis Bacon and John Stuart Mill. To this purpose, an account of eliminative induction is proposed with two distinguishing features: it includes a method to establish the causal irrelevance of boundary (...)
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  5. What Is and Why Do We Need Philosophy of Physics?Meinard Kuhlmann & Wolfgang Pietsch - 2012 - Journal for General Philosophy of Science / Zeitschrift für Allgemeine Wissenschaftstheorie 43 (2):209-214.
    Philosophy of physics is a small but thriving research field situated at the intersection between the natural sciences and the humanities. However, what exactly distinguishes philosophy of physics from physics is rarely made explicit in much depth. We provide a detailed analysis in the form of eleven theses, delineating both the nature of the questions asked in philosophy of physics and the methodology with which they are addressed.
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  6.  22
    On Conceptual Issues in Classical Electrodynamics: Prospects and Problems of an Action-at-a-Distance Interpretation.Wolfgang Pietsch - 2010 - Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part B: Studies in History and Philosophy of Modern Physics 41 (1):67-77.
  7. Defending Underdetermination or Why the Historical Perspective Makes a Difference.Wolfgang Pietsch - 2010 - In Henk W. de Regt (ed.), Epsa Philosophy of Science: Amsterdam 2009. Springer. pp. 303--313.
    The old antagonism between the Quinean and the Duhemian view on underdetermination is reexamined. In this respect, two theses will be defended. First, it is argued that the main differences between Quine's and Duhem's versions of underdetermination derive from a different attitude towards the history of science. While Quine considered underdetermination from an ahistorical, a logical point of view, Duhem approached it as a distinguished historian of physics. On this basis, a logical and a historical version of the underdetermination thesis (...)
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  8.  3
    Reassessing the Ritz–Einstein Debate on the Radiation Asymmetry in Classical Electrodynamics.Mathias Frisch & Wolfgang Pietsch - 2016 - Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part B: Studies in History and Philosophy of Modern Physics 55:13-23.
  9.  43
    A Difference-Making Account of Causation.Wolfgang Pietsch - unknown
    A difference-making account of causality is proposed that is based on a counterfactual definition, but differs from traditional counterfactual approaches to causation in a number of crucial respects: it introduces a notion of causal irrelevance; it evaluates the truth-value of counterfactual statements in terms of difference-making; it renders causal statements background-dependent. On the basis of the fundamental notions 'causal relevance' and 'causal irrelevance', further causal concepts are defined including causal factors, alternative causes, and importantly inus-conditions. Problems and advantages of the (...)
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  10.  27
    The Limits of Probabilism.Wolfgang Pietsch - 2013 - In Vassilios Karakostas & Dennis Dieks (eds.), Epsa11 Perspectives and Foundational Problems in Philosophy of Science. Springer. pp. 55--65.
  11.  35
    Hidden Underdetermination: A Case Study in Classical Electrodynamics.Wolfgang Pietsch - 2012 - International Studies in the Philosophy of Science 26 (2):125-151.
    In this article, I present a case study of underdetermination in nineteenth-century electrodynamics between a pure field theory and a formulation in terms of action at a distance. A particular focus is on the question if and how this underdetermination is eventually resolved. It turns out that after a period of overt underdetermination, during which the approaches are developed separately, the two programmes are merged. On the basis of this development, I argue that the original underdetermination survives in hidden form (...)
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  12.  38
    Causal Interpretations of Probability.Wolfgang Pietsch - unknown
    The prospects of a causal interpretation of probability are examined. Various accounts both from the history of scientific method and from recent developments in the tradition of the method of arbitrary functions, in particular by Strevens, Rosenthal, and Abrams, are briefly introduced and assessed. I then present a specific account of causal probability with the following features: First, the link between causal probability and a particular account of induction and causation is established, namely eliminative induction and the related difference-making account (...)
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  13.  38
    Two Electrodynamics Between Plurality and Reduction.Wolfgang Pietsch - unknown
    Comparing action-at-a-distance electrodynamics in the tradition of Coulomb and Ampère with electromagnetic field theory of Faraday and Maxwell provides an example for a relation between theories, that are on a par in many respects. They have a broadly overlapping domain of applicability, and both were widely successful in explanation and prediction. The relation can be understood as an inhomogeneous reduction without a clear distinction between reducing and reduced theory. It is argued in general, when a clear hierarchy between competing theories (...)
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  14.  26
    A Revolution Without Tooth and Claw—Redefining the Physical Base Units.Wolfgang Pietsch - 2014 - Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part A 46:85-93.
    A case study is presented of a recent proposal by the major metrology institutes to redefine four of the physical base units, namely kilogram, ampere, mole, and kelvin. The episode shows a number of features that are unusual for progress in an objective science: for example, the progress is not triggered by experimental discoveries or theoretical innovations; also, the new definitions are eventually implemented by means of a voting process. In the philosophical analysis, I will first argue that the episode (...)
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    Big Data – The New Science of Complexity.Wolfgang Pietsch - unknown
    Data-intensive techniques, now widely referred to as 'big data', allow for novel ways to address complexity in science. I assess their impact on the scientific method. First, big-data science is distinguished from other scientific uses of information technologies, in particular from computer simulations. Then, I sketch the complex and contextual nature of the laws established by data-intensive methods and relate them to a specific concept of causality, thereby dispelling the popular myth that big data is only concerned with correlations. The (...)
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  16. Big Data.Wolfgang Pietsch - 2021 - Cambridge University Press.
    Big Data and methods for analyzing large data sets such as machine learning have in recent times deeply transformed scientific practice in many fields. However, an epistemological study of these novel tools is still largely lacking. After a conceptual analysis of the notion of data and a brief introduction into the methodological dichotomy between inductivism and hypothetico-deductivism, several controversial theses regarding big data approaches are discussed. These include, whether correlation replaces causation, whether the end of theory is in sight and (...)
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  17. Pt. 1: General Reflections. Thomas Kuhn and Interdisciplinary Conversation : Why Historians and Philosophers of Science Stopped Talking to One Another / Jan Golinski ; The History and Philosophy of Science History / David Marshall Miller ; What in Truth Divides Historians and Philosophers of Science? / Kenneth L. Caneva ; History and Philosophy of Science : Thirty-Five Years Later / Ronald N. Giere ; Philosophy of Science and its Historical Reconstruction / Peter Dear ; The Underdetermination Debate : How Lack of History Leads to Bad Philosophy. [REVIEW]Wolfgang Pietsch - 2011 - In Seymour H. Mauskopf & Tad M. Schmaltz (eds.), Integrating History and Philosophy of Science: Problems and Prospects. Springer Verlag.
  18. Two Modes of Reasoning with Case Studies.Wolfgang Pietsch - 2016 - In Raphael Scholl & Tilman Sauer (eds.), The Philosophy of Historical Case Studies. Springer.
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