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  1. Three Strategies for Salvaging Epistemic Value in Deep Neural Network Modeling.Philippe Verreault-Julien - manuscript
    Some how-possibly explanations have epistemic value because they are epistemically possible; we cannot rule out their truth. One paradoxical implication of that proposal is that epistemic value may be obtained from mere ignorance. For the less we know, then the more is epistemically possible. This chapter examines a particular class of problematic epistemically possible how-possibly explanations, viz. *epistemically opaque* how-possibly explanations. Those are how-possibly explanations justified by an epistemically opaque process. How could epistemically opaque how-possibly explanations have epistemic value if (...)
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  2. Beauty as a Guide to Truth: Aquinas, Fittingness, and Explanatory Virtues.Levi Durham - forthcoming - Proceedings and Addresses of the American Philosophical Association.
    Many scientists and philosophers of science think that beauty should play a role in theory selection. Physicists like Paul Dirac and Steven Weinberg explicitly claim that the ultimate explanations of the physical world must be beautiful. And philosophers of science like Peter Lipton say that we should expect the loveliest theory to also be the most likely. In this paper, I contend that these arguments from loveliness bear a striking similarity to Thomas Aquinas’ arguments from fittingness; both seem to presume (...)
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  3. Realism and the Value of Explanation.Samuel John Andrews - 2023 - Philosophical Quarterly 73 (4):1305–1314.
    Dasgupta poses a serious challenge to realism about natural properties. He argues that there is no acceptable explanation of why natural properties deserve the value realists assign to them and are consequently absent of value. In response, this paper defines and defends an alternative non-explanatory account of normativity compatible with realism. Unlike Lewis and Sider, who believe it is sufficient to defend realism solely on realist terms, I engage with the challenge on unfriendly grounds by revealing a tu quoque. Dasgupta (...)
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  4. What's the coincidence in debunking?Harjit Bhogal - 2022 - Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 107 (1):147-167.
    Many moral debunking arguments are driven by the idea that the correlation between our moral beliefs and the moral truths is a big coincidence, given a robustly realist conception of morality.One influential response is that the correlation is not a coincidence because there is a common explainer of our moral beliefs and the moral truths. For example, the reason that I believe that I should feed my child is because feeding my child helps them to survive, and natural selection instills (...)
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  5. Coherent Causal Control: A New Distinction within Causation.Marcel Weber - 2022 - European Journal for Philosophy of Science 12 (4):69.
    The recent literature on causality has seen the introduction of several distinctions within causality, which are thought to be important for understanding the widespread scientific practice of focusing causal explanations on a subset of the factors that are causally relevant for a phenomenon. Concepts used to draw such distinctions include, among others, stability, specificity, proportionality, or actual-difference making. In this contribution, I propose a new distinction that picks out an explanatorily salient class of causes in biological systems. Some select causes (...)
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  6. String Theory, Non-Empirical Theory Assessment, and the Context of Pursuit.Frank Cabrera - 2021 - Synthese 198:3671–3699.
    In this paper, I offer an analysis of the radical disagreement over the adequacy of string theory. The prominence of string theory despite its notorious lack of empirical support is sometimes explained as a troubling case of science gone awry, driven largely by sociological mechanisms such as groupthink (e.g. Smolin 2006). Others, such as Dawid (2013), explain the controversy by positing a methodological revolution of sorts, according to which string theorists have quietly turned to nonempirical methods of theory assessment given (...)
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  7. Du Châtelet on Sufficient Reason and Empirical Explanation.Aaron Wells - 2021 - Southern Journal of Philosophy 59 (4):629-655.
    The Southern Journal of Philosophy, EarlyView.
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  8. Difference-making and deterministic chance.Harjit Bhogal - 2020 - Philosophical Studies 178 (7):2215-2235.
    Why do we value higher-level scientific explanations if, ultimately, the world is physical? An attractive answer is that physical explanations often cite facts that don’t make a difference to the event in question. I claim that to properly develop this view we need to commit to a type of deterministic chance. And in doing so, we see the theoretical utility of deterministic chance, giving us reason to accept a package of views including deterministic chance.
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  9. Explanatory Abstraction and the Goldilocks Problem: Interventionism Gets Things Just Right.Thomas Blanchard - 2020 - British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 71 (2):633-663.
    Theories of explanation need to account for a puzzling feature of our explanatory practices: the fact that we prefer explanations that are relatively abstract but only moderately so. Contra Franklin-Hall ([2016]), I argue that the interventionist account of explanation provides a natural and elegant explanation of this fact. By striking the right balance between specificity and generality, moderately abstract explanations optimally subserve what interventionists regard as the goal of explanation, namely identifying possible interventions that would have changed the explanandum.
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  10. Understanding, Truth, and Epistemic Goals.Kareem Khalifa - 2020 - Philosophy of Science 87 (5):944-956.
    Several argue that truth cannot be science’s sole epistemic goal, for it would fail to do justice to several scientific practices that advance understanding. I challenge these arguments, but only after making a small concession: science’s sole epistemic goal is not truth as such; rather, its goal is finding true answers to relevant questions. Using examples from the natural and social sciences, I then show that scientific understanding’s epistemically valuable features are either true answers to relevant questions or a means (...)
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  11. Coincidences and the Grain of Explanation.Harjit Bhogal - 2019 - Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 100 (3):677-694.
    I give an account of what makes an event a coincidence. -/- I start by critically discussing a couple of other approaches to the notion of coincidence -- particularly that of Lando (2017) -- before developing my own view. The central idea of my view is that the correct understanding of coincidences is closely related to our understanding of the correct 'level' or 'grain' of explanation. Coincidences have a kind of explanatory deficiency — if they did not have this deficiency (...)
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  12. The Diversity of Models as a Means to Better Explanations in Economics.Emrah Aydinonat - 2018 - Journal of Economic Methodology 25 (3):237-251.
    In Economics Rules, Dani Rodrik (2015) argues that what makes economics powerful despite the limitations of each and every model is its diversity of models. Rodrik suggests that the diversity of models in economics improves its explanatory capacities, but he does not fully explain how. I offer a clearer picture of how models relate to explanations of particular economic facts or events, and suggest that the diversity of models is a means to better economic explanations.
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  13. Evolutionary Debunking Arguments and Our Shared Hatred of Pain.Ben Bramble - 2017 - Journal of Ethics and Social Philosophy 12 (1):94-101.
    This article responds to an argument from Katarzyna de Ladari-Radek and Peter Singer in their article, "The Objectivity of Ethics and the Unity of Practical Reason.".
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  14. How to define levels of explanation and evaluate their indispensability.Christopher Clarke - 2017 - Synthese 194 (6).
    Some explanations in social science, psychology and biology belong to a higher level than other explanations. And higher explanations possess the virtue of abstracting away from the details of lower explanations, many philosophers argue. As a result, these higher explanations are irreplaceable. And this suggests that there are genuine higher laws or patterns involving social, psychological and biological states. I show that this ‘abstractness argument’ is really an argument schema, not a single argument. This is because the argument uses the (...)
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  15. Multi-Level Selection and the Explanatory Value of Mathematical Decompositions.Christopher Clarke - 2016 - British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 67 (4):1025-1055.
    Do multi-level selection explanations of the evolution of social traits deepen the understanding provided by single-level explanations? Central to the former is a mathematical theorem, the multi-level Price decomposition. I build a framework through which to understand the explanatory role of such non-empirical decompositions in scientific practice. Applying this general framework to the present case places two tasks on the agenda. The first task is to distinguish the various ways of suppressing within-collective variation in fitness, and moreover to evaluate their (...)
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  16. Theories of Properties and Ontological Theory-Choice: An Essay in Metaontology.Christopher Gibilisco - 2016 - Dissertation, University of Nebraska-Lincoln
    This dissertation argues that we have no good reason to accept any one theory of properties as correct. To show this, I present three possible bases for theory-choice in the properties debate: coherence, explanatory adequacy, and explanatory value. Then I argue that none of these bases resolve the underdetermination of our choice between theories of properties. First, I argue considerations about coherence cannot resolve the underdetermination, because no traditional theory of properties is obviously incoherent. Second, I argue considerations of explanatory (...)
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  17. Statistical Mechanical Imperialism.Brad Weslake - 2014 - In Alastair Wilson (ed.), Chance and Temporal Asymmetry. Oxford: Oxford University Press. pp. 241-257.
    I argue against the claim, advanced by David Albert and Barry Loewer, that all non-fundamental laws can be derived from those required to underwrite the second law of thermodynamics.
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  18. Proportionality, contrast and explanation.Brad Weslake - 2013 - Australasian Journal of Philosophy 91 (4):785-797.
    If counterfactual dependence is sufficient for causation and if omissions can be causes, then all events have many more causes than common sense tends to recognize. This problem is standardly addressed by appeal to pragmatics. However, Carolina Sartorio [2010] has recently raised what I shall argue is a more interesting problem concerning omissions for counterfactual theories of causation—more interesting because it demands a more subtle pragmatic solution. I discuss the relationship between the idea that causes are proportional to their effects, (...)
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  19. Explanatory independence and epistemic interdependence: A case study of the optimality approach.Angela Potochnik - 2010 - British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 61 (1):213-233.
    The value of optimality modeling has long been a source of contention amongst population biologists. Here I present a view of the optimality approach as at once playing a crucial explanatory role and yet also depending on external sources of confirmation. Optimality models are not alone in facing this tension between their explanatory value and their dependence on other approaches; I suspect that the scenario is quite common in science. This investigation of the optimality approach thus serves as a case (...)
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  20. Levels of explanation reconceived.Angela Potochnik - 2010 - Philosophy of Science 77 (1):59-72.
    A common argument against explanatory reductionism is that higher‐level explanations are sometimes or always preferable because they are more general than reductive explanations. Here I challenge two basic assumptions that are needed for that argument to succeed. It cannot be assumed that higher‐level explanations are more general than their lower‐level alternatives or that higher‐level explanations are general in the right way to be explanatory. I suggest a novel form of pluralism regarding levels of explanation, according to which explanations at different (...)
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  21. Explanatory Depth.Brad Weslake - 2010 - Philosophy of Science 77 (2):273-294.
    I defend an account of explanatory depth according to which explanations in the non-fundamental sciences can be deeper than explanations in fundamental physics.
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  22. Optimality modeling and explanatory generality.Angela Potochnik - 2007 - Philosophy of Science 74 (5):680-691.
    The optimality approach to modeling natural selection has been criticized by many biologists and philosophers of biology. For instance, Lewontin (1979) argues that the optimality approach is a shortcut that will be replaced by models incorporating genetic information, if and when such models become available. In contrast, I think that optimality models have a permanent role in evolutionary study. I base my argument for this claim on what I think it takes to best explain an event. In certain contexts, optimality (...)
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  23. The nature of the "ultimate" explanation in physics.Abdus Salam - 1981 - In Anthony Francis Heath (ed.), Scientific Explanation: Papers Based on Herbert Spencer Lectures Given in the University of Oxford. Clarendon Press.
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  24. Calling for Explanation: An Extraordinary Account.Dan Baras - manuscript
    Are there any facts that call for explanation? According to one possible view, all facts call for explanation; according to another, none do. This paper is concerned with an intermediate view according to which some facts call for explanation and others do not. Such a view requires explaining what makes some facts call for explanation and not others. In this paper, I explore a neglected proposal, inspired by the work of George Schlesinger, according to which facts call for explanation when (...)
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