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  1. added 2019-07-04
    Infinite Barbarians.Daniel Nolan - forthcoming - Ratio.
    This paper discusses an infinite regress that looms behind a certain kind of historical explanation. The movement of one barbarian group is often explained by the movement of others, but those movements in turn call for an explanation. While their explanation can again be the movement of yet another group of barbarians, if this sort of explanation does not stop somewhere we are left with an infinite regress of barbarians. While that regress would be vicious, it cannot be accommodated by (...)
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  2. added 2019-06-05
    Is Explanatoriness a Guide to Confirmation? A Reply to Climenhaga.William Roche & Elliott Sober - 2017 - Journal for General Philosophy of Science / Zeitschrift für Allgemeine Wissenschaftstheorie 48 (4):581-590.
    We argued that explanatoriness is evidentially irrelevant in the following sense: Let H be a hypothesis, O an observation, and E the proposition that H would explain O if H and O were true. Then our claim is that Pr = Pr. We defended this screening-off thesis by discussing an example concerning smoking and cancer. Climenhaga argues that SOT is mistaken because it delivers the wrong verdict about a slightly different smoking-and-cancer case. He also considers a variant of SOT, called (...)
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  3. added 2019-03-05
    Ontic Explanation Is Either Ontic or Explanatory, but Not Both.Cory Wright & Dingmar van Eck - 2018 - Ergo: An Open Access Journal of Philosophy 5 (38):997–1029.
    What features will something have if it counts as an explanation? And will something count as an explanation if it has those features? In the second half of the 20th century, philosophers of science set for themselves the task of answering such questions, just as a priori conceptual analysis was generally falling out of favor. And as it did, most philosophers of science just moved on to more manageable questions about the varieties of explanation and discipline-specific scientific explanation. Often, such (...)
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  4. added 2019-03-01
    Normative Explanation and Justification.Pekka Väyrynen - forthcoming - Noûs.
    Normative explanations of why things are wrong, good, or unfair are ubiquitous in ordinary practice and normative theory. This paper argues that normative explanation is subject to a justification condition: a correct complete explanation of why a normative fact holds must identify features that would go at least some way towards justifying certain actions or attitudes. I first explain and motivate the condition I propose. I then support it by arguing that it fits well with various theories of normative reasons, (...)
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  5. added 2019-01-08
    Two Criticisms Against Mathematical Realism.Seungbae Park - 2017 - Diametros 52:96-106.
    Mathematical realism asserts that mathematical objects exist in the abstract world, and that a mathematical sentence is true or false, depending on whether the abstract world is as the mathematical sentence says it is. I raise two objections against mathematical realism. First, the abstract world is queer in that it allows for contradictory states of affairs. Second, mathematical realism does not have a theoretical resource to explain why a sentence about a tricle is true or false. A tricle is an (...)
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  6. added 2018-10-21
    Computer Simulations in Science and Engineering. Concept, Practices, Perspectives.Juan Manuel Durán - 2018 - Springer.
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  7. added 2018-07-13
    There is No Haecceitic Euthyphro Problem.Alexander Skiles - forthcoming - Analysis:any061.
    Jason Bowers and Meg Wallace have recently argued that those who hold that every individual instantiates a ‘haecceity’ are caught up in a Euthyphro-style dilemma when confronted with familiar cases of fission and fusion. Key to Bowers and Wallace’s dilemma are certain assumptions about the nature of metaphysical explanation and the explanatory commitments of belief in haecceities. However, I argue that the dilemma only arises due to a failure to distinguish between providing a metaphysical explanation of why a fact holds (...)
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  8. added 2018-06-16
    Epistemic Justification and Methodological Luck in Inflationary Cosmology.C. D. McCoy - forthcoming - British Journal for the Philosophy of Science:axy014.
    I present a recent historical case from cosmology—the story of inflationary cosmology— and on its basis argue that solving explanatory problems is a reliable method for making progress in science. In particular, I claim that the success of inflationary theory at solving its predecessor’s explanatory problems justified the theory epistemically, even in advance of the development of novel predictions from the theory and the later confirmation of those predictions.
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  9. added 2018-06-12
    Review of Chrysostomos Mantzavinos's Explanatory Pluralism. [REVIEW]Alexander Beard & Cory Wright - 2018 - Analysis 78 (3):569–572.
    Chrysostomos Mantzavinos (2016), Explanatory Pluralism. Cambridge University Press, xiv + 223 pp. £64.99 cloth.
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  10. added 2018-03-09
    Science and Meaning.Nicholas Maxwell - 2002 - The Philosophers' Magazine 18:15-16.
    How can we understand our human world, embedded as it is within the physical universe, in such a way that justice is done to both the richness, meaning and value of human life on the one hand, and what modern science tells us about the physical universe on the other hand? I argue that, in order to solve this problem, we need to see physics as being concerned only with a highly selected aspect of reality – that aspect which determines (...)
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  11. added 2018-03-05
    Grounding and the Argument From Explanatoriness.David Kovacs - 2017 - Philosophical Studies 174 (12):2927-2952.
    In recent years, metaphysics has undergone what some describe as a revolution: it has become standard to understand a vast array of questions as questions about grounding, a metaphysical notion of determination. Why should we believe in grounding, though? Supporters of the revolution often gesture at what I call the Argument from Explanatoriness: the notion of grounding is somehow indispensable to a metaphysical type of explanation. I challenge this argument and along the way develop a “reactionary” view, according to which (...)
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  12. added 2018-02-17
    Bohmian Mechanics Without Wave Function Ontology.Albert Solé - 2013 - Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part B: Studies in History and Philosophy of Modern Physics 44 (4):365-378.
    In this paper, I critically assess different interpretations of Bohmian mechanics that are not committed to an ontology based on the wave function being an actual physical object that inhabits configuration space. More specifically, my aim is to explore the connection between the denial of configuration space realism and another interpretive debate that is specific to Bohmian mechanics: the quantum potential versus guidance approaches. Whereas defenders of the quantum potential approach to the theory claim that Bohmian mechanics is better formulated (...)
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  13. added 2018-01-17
    Eight Other Questions About Explanation.Angela Potochnik - 2018 - In Alexander Reutlinger & Juha Saatsi (eds.), Explanation Beyond Causation: Philosophical Perspectives on Non-Causal Explanations. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
    The tremendous philosophical focus on how to characterize explanatory metaphysical dependence has eclipsed a number of other unresolved issued about scientific explanation. The purpose of this paper is taxonomical. I will outline a number of other questions about the nature of explanation and its role in science—eight, to be precise—and argue that each is independent. All of these topics have received some philosophical attention, but none nearly so much as it deserves. Furthermore, existing views on these topics have been obscured (...)
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  14. added 2017-09-01
    Recipes for Science: An Introduction to Scientific Methods and Reasoning.Angela Potochnik, Matteo Colombo & Cory Wright - 2018 - New York: Routledge.
    There is widespread recognition at universities that a proper understanding of science is needed for all undergraduates. Good jobs are increasingly found in fields related to Science, Technology, Engineering, and Medicine, and science now enters almost all aspects of our daily lives. For these reasons, scientific literacy and an understanding of scientific methodology are a foundational part of any undergraduate education. Recipes for Science provides an accessible introduction to the main concepts and methods of scientific reasoning. With the help of (...)
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  15. added 2017-07-30
    Truth, Explanation, Minimalism.Cory Wright - 2018 - Synthese 195 (3):987–1009.
    Minimalists about truth contend that traditional inflationary theories systematically fail to explain certain facts about truth, and that this failure licenses a ‘reversal of explanatory direction’. Once reversed, they purport that their own minimal theory adequately explains all of the facts involving truth. But minimalists’ main objection to inflationism seems to misfire, and the subsequent reversal of explanatory direction, if it can be made sense of, leaves minimalism in no better explanatory position; and even if the objection were serviceable and (...)
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  16. added 2017-05-22
    Divide and Conquer: The Authority of Nature and Why We Disagree About Human Nature.Maria Kronfeldner - forthcoming - In Elizabeth Hannon & Tim Lewens (eds.), Why we disagree about human nature. Oxford: Oxford University Press. pp. 186-206.
    The term ‘human nature’ can refer to different things in the world and fulfil different epistemic roles. Human nature can refer to a classificatory nature (classificatory criteria that determine the boundaries of, and membership in, a biological or social group called ‘human’), a descriptive nature (a bundle of properties describing the respective group’s life form), or an explanatory nature (a set of factors explaining that life form). This chapter will first introduce these three kinds of ‘human nature’, together with seven (...)
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  17. added 2017-03-13
    Truthmaker Explanations.Barry Smith & Jonathan Simon - 2007 - In Jean-Maurice Monnoyer (ed.), Metaphysics and Truthmakers. Ontos Verlag. pp. 79-98.
    This paper is a fresh attempt to articulate the role of a theory of truthmakers. We argue that truthmaker theory constitutes a cornerstone of good methodology in metaphysics, but that a conflation of truthmaker theory with the theory of truth has been responsible for certain excesses associated with truthmaker-based approaches in the recent literature. If truthmaker theory is not a component of a theory of truth, then truthmaker maximalism – the view that every truth has a truthmaker – loses its (...)
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  18. added 2016-08-03
    How Explanation Guides Confirmation.Nevin Climenhaga - 2017 - Philosophy of Science 84 (2):359-68.
    Where E is the proposition that [If H and O were true, H would explain O], William Roche and Elliot Sober have argued that P(H|O&E) = P(H|O). In this paper I argue that not only is this equality not generally true, it is false in the very kinds of cases that Roche and Sober focus on, involving frequency data. In fact, in such cases O raises the probability of H only given that there is an explanatory connection between them.
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  19. added 2016-02-08
    Is Psychological Explanation Going Extinct?Cory Wright - 2007 - In Huib Looren de Jong & Maurice Schouten (eds.), The Matter of the Mind: Philosophical Essays on Psychology, Neuroscience and Reduction. Oxford: Blackwell.
    Psychoneural reductionists sometimes claim that sufficient amounts of lower-level explanatory achievement preclude further contributions from higher-level psychological research. Ostensibly, with nothing left to do, the effect of such preclusion on psychological explanation is extinction. Reductionist arguments for preclusion have recently involved a reorientation within the philosophical foundations of neuroscience---namely, away from the philosophical foundations and toward the neuroscience. In this chapter, I review a successful reductive explanation of an aspect of reward function in terms of dopaminergic operations of the mesocorticolimbic (...)
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  20. added 2015-12-02
    Explanatory Rivals and the Ultimate Argument.Finnur Dellsén - 2015 - Theoria 82 (3):217-237.
    Although many aspects of Inference to the Best Explanation have been extensively discussed, very little has so far been said about what it takes for a hypothesis to count as a rival explanatory hypothesis in the context of IBE. The primary aim of this article is to rectify this situation by arguing for a specific account of explanatory rivalry. On this account, explanatory rivals are complete explanations of a given explanandum. When explanatory rivals are conceived of in this way, I (...)
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  21. added 2015-11-13
    Partial Explanations in Social Science’.Robert Northcott - 2012 - In Harold Kincaid (ed.), The Oxford Handbook of Philosophy of Social Science. Oxford University Press. pp. 130-153.
    Comparing different causes’ importance, and apportioning responsibility between them, requires making good sense of the notion of partial explanation, that is, of degree of explanation. How much is this subjective, how much objective? If the causes in question are probabilistic, how much is the outcome due to them and how much to simple chance? I formulate the notion of degree of causation, or effect size, relating it to influential recent work in the literature on causation. I examine to what extent (...)
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  22. added 2015-10-25
    Complex Mental Disorders: Representation, Stability and Explanation.Dominic Murphy - 2010 - European Journal of Analytic Philosophy 6 (1):28-42.
    This paper discusses the representation and explanation of relationships between phenomena that are important in psychiatric contexts. After a general discussion of complexity in the philosophy of science, I distinguish zooming-out approaches from zooming-in approaches. Zooming-out has to do with seeing complex mental illnesses as abstract models for the purposes of both explanation and reduction. Zooming-in involves breaking complex mental illnesses into simple components and trying to explain those components independently in terms of specific causes. Connections between existing practice and (...)
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  23. added 2015-10-25
    Psychiatric Explanation and Understanding.Tim Thornton - 2010 - European Journal of Analytic Philosophy 6 (1):95-111.
    Jaspers’s binary distinction between understanding and explanation has given way first to a proliferation of explanatory levels and now, in John Campbell’s recent work, to a conception of explanation with no distinct levels of explanation and no inbuilt rationality requirement. I argue that there is still a role for understanding in psychiatry and that is to demystify the assumption that the states it concerns are mental. This role can be fulfilled by placing rationality at the heart of understanding without a (...)
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  24. added 2015-09-04
    The Meta-Explanatory Question.L. R. Franklin-Hall - manuscript
    Philosophical theories of explanation characterize the difference between correct and incorrect explanations. While remaining neutral as to which of these ‘first-order’ theories is right, this paper asks the ‘meta-explanatory’ question: is the difference between correct and incorrect explanation real, i.e., objective or mind-independent? After offering a framework for distinguishing realist from anti-realist views, I sketch three distinct paths to explanatory anti-realism.
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  25. added 2015-03-17
    Best Explanationism and Justification for Beliefs About the Future.Gregory Stoutenburg - 2015 - Episteme 12 (4):429-437.
    Earl Conee and Richard Feldman have recently argued that the evidential support relation should be understood in terms of explanatory coherence: roughly, one's evidence supports a proposition if and only if that proposition is part of the best available explanation of the evidence. Their thesis has been criticized through alleged counterexamples, perhaps the most important of which are cases where a subject has a justified belief about the future. Kevin McCain has defended the thesis against Byerly's counterexample. I argue that (...)
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  26. added 2015-01-15
    Theoretical Identities as Explanantia and Explananda.Kevin Morris - 2011 - American Philosophical Quarterly 48 (4):373-385.
    The mind-brain identity theory, the thesis that sensations are identical with properties or processes of the brain, was introduced into contemporary discussion by U.T. Place, Herbert Feigl, and J.J.C Smart in the 1950s. Despite its widespread rejection in the following decades, the identity theory has received several carefully articulated defenses in recent years. Aside from developing novel responses to well-known arguments against the identity theory, contemporary identity theorists have argued that the epistemological resources available to support the adoption of identities (...)
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  27. added 2014-09-24
    Addendum to "A Formal Framework for Representing Mechanisms?".Alexander Gebharter - manuscript
    In (Gebharter 2014) I suggested a framework for modeling the hierarchical organization of mechanisms. In this short addendum I want to highlight some connections of my approach to the statistics and machine learning literature and some of its limitations not mentioned in the paper.
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  28. added 2014-09-04
    Coherence, Probability and Explanation.William Roche & Michael Schippers - 2014 - Erkenntnis 79 (4):821-828.
    Recently there have been several attempts in formal epistemology to develop an adequate probabilistic measure of coherence. There is much to recommend probabilistic measures of coherence. They are quantitative and render formally precise a notion—coherence—notorious for its elusiveness. Further, some of them do very well, intuitively, on a variety of test cases. Siebel, however, argues that there can be no adequate probabilistic measure of coherence. Take some set of propositions A, some probabilistic measure of coherence, and a probability distribution such (...)
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  29. added 2014-06-22
    Against Grounding Necessitarianism.Alexander Skiles - 2015 - Erkenntnis 80 (4):717-751.
    Can there be grounding without necessitation? Can a fact obtain wholly in virtue of metaphysically more fundamental facts, even though there are possible worlds at which the latter facts obtain but not the former? It is an orthodoxy in recent literature about the nature of grounding, and in first-order philosophical disputes about what grounds what, that the answer is no. I will argue that the correct answer is yes. I present two novel arguments against grounding necessitarianism, and show that grounding (...)
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  30. added 2014-05-01
    No Successfull Infinite Regress.Laureano Luna - 2014 - Logic and Logical Philosophy 23 (2):189-201.
    We model infinite regress structures -not arguments- by means of ungrounded recursively defined functions in order to show that no such structure can perform the task of providing determination to the items composing it, that is, that no determination process containing an infinite regress structure is successful.
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  31. added 2014-03-28
    A Pessimistic Induction Against Scientific Antirealism.Seungbae Park - 2014 - Organon F: Medzinárodný Časopis Pre Analytickú Filozofiu 21 (1):3-21.
    There are nine antirealist explanations of the success of science in the literature. I raise difficulties against all of them except the latest one, and then construct a pessimistic induction that the latest one will turn out to be problematic because its eight forerunners turned out to be problematic. This pessimistic induction is on a par with the traditional pessimistic induction that successful present scientific theories will be revealed to be false because successful past scientific theories were revealed to be (...)
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  32. added 2014-03-02
    Explanations: Aesthetic and Scientific.Shen-yi Liao - 2014 - Royal Institute of Philosophy Supplement 75:127-149.
    Methodologically, philosophical aesthetics is undergoing an evolution that takes it closer to the sciences. Taking this methodological convergence as the starting point, I argue for a pragmatist and pluralist view of aesthetic explanations. To bring concreteness to discussion, I focus on vindicating genre explanations, which are explanations of aesthetic phenomena that centrally cite a work's genre classification. I show that theoretical resources that philosophers of science have developed with attention to actual scientific practice and the special sciences can be used (...)
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  33. added 2013-11-04
    Because You’Ll Find Out Anyway, Your Wife is Having an Affair - If and Because.Rani Lill Anjum - manuscript
    In an explanation ‘y because x’, because can be used to express an explanatory relation between an explanandum ‘y’ and an explanans ‘x’. But because can also be used to express the speaker’s reason for uttering ‘y’. This difference will be elucidated by connecting it with the distinction between the at-issue dimension and the speaker dimension of meaning. There are also internal relations between if and because that can help us find and analyse different uses of because, and thus also (...)
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  34. added 2013-10-18
    On the Prospects for Naturalism.Nicholas Tebben - 2013 - In Simon Baumgartner, Thimo Heisenberg & Sebastian Krebs (eds.), Metaphysics or Modernity? Bamberg University Press.
    Contemporary naturalism has two components. The first is ontological, and says, roughly, that all and only what the sciences say exists, really does exist. The other is methodological, and it says that only scientific explanations are legitimate explanations. Together these commitments promise a coherent picture of the world that is nicely integrated with an attractive epistemology. Despite the obvious appeal of naturalism, I would like to sound a note of caution. First, I would like to argue that naturalism's ontological commitment (...)
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  35. added 2012-07-23
    Grounding Explanations.Louis deRosset - 2013 - Philosophers' Imprint 13.
    A compelling idea holds that reality has a layered structure. We often disagree about what inhabits the bottom layer, but we agree that higher up we find chemical, biological, geological, psychological, sociological, economic, /etc./, entities: molecules, human beings, diamonds, mental states, cities, interest rates, and so on. How is this intuitive talk of a layered structure of entities to be understood? Traditionally, philosophers have proposed to understand layered structure in terms of either reduction or supervenience. But these traditional views face (...)
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  36. added 2012-02-16
    Diagrams as Locality Aids for Explanation and Model Construction in Cell Biology.Nicholaos Jones & Olaf Wolkenhauer - 2012 - Biology and Philosophy 27 (5):705-721.
    Using as case studies two early diagrams that represent mechanisms of the cell division cycle, we aim to extend prior philosophical analyses of the roles of diagrams in scientific reasoning, and specifically their role in biological reasoning. The diagrams we discuss are, in practice, integral and indispensible elements of reasoning from experimental data about the cell division cycle to mathematical models of the cycle’s molecular mechanisms. In accordance with prior analyses, the diagrams provide functional explanations of the cell cycle and (...)
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  37. added 2012-02-16
    Mechanistic Explanation Without the Ontic Conception.Cory D. Wright - 2012 - European Journal of Philosophy of Science 2 (3):375-394.
    The ontic conception of scientific explanation has been constructed and motivated on the basis of a putative lexical ambiguity in the term explanation. I raise a puzzle for this ambiguity claim, and then give a deflationary solution under which all ontically-rendered talk of explanation is merely elliptical; what it is elliptical for is a view of scientific explanation that altogether avoids the ontic conception. This result has revisionary consequences for New Mechanists and other philosophers of science, many of whom have (...)
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