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  1. Do Fictions Explain?James Nguyen - 2020 - Synthese 199 (1-2):3219-3244.
    I argue that fictional models, construed as models that misrepresent certain ontological aspects of their target systems, can nevertheless explain why the latter exhibit certain behaviour. They can do this by accurately representing whatever it is that that behaviour counterfactually depends on. However, we should be sufficiently sensitive to different explanatory questions, i.e., ‘why does certain behaviour occur?’ versus ‘why does the counterfactual dependency invoked to answer that question actually hold?’. With this distinction in mind, I argue that whilst fictional (...)
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  • Epistemic Dependence & Understanding: Reformulating Through Symmetry.Joshua Robert Hunt - forthcoming - British Journal for the Philosophy of Science.
    Science frequently gives us multiple, compatible ways of solving the same problem or formulating the same theory. These compatible formulations change our understanding of the world, despite providing the same explanations. According to what I call "conceptualism," reformulations change our understanding by clarifying the epistemic structure of theories. I illustrate conceptualism by analyzing a typical example of symmetry-based reformulation in chemical physics. This case study poses a problem for "explanationism," the rival thesis that differences in understanding require ontic explanatory differences. (...)
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  • Interpreting the Wigner–Eckart Theorem.Josh Hunt - 2021 - Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part A 87:28-43.
    The Wigner--Eckart theorem is central to the application of symmetry principles throughout atomic, molecular, and nuclear physics. Nevertheless, the theorem has a puzzling feature: it is dispensable for solving problems within these domains, since elementary methods suffice. To account for the significance of the theorem, I first contrast it with an elementary approach to calculating matrix elements. Next, I consider three broad strategies for interpreting the theorem: conventionalism, fundamentalism, and conceptualism. I argue that the conventionalist framework is unnecessarily pragmatic, while (...)
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  • A Defense of Truth as a Necessary Condition on Scientific Explanation.Christopher Pincock - forthcoming - Erkenntnis:1-20.
    How can a reflective scientist put forward an explanation using a model when they are aware that many of the assumptions used to specify that model are false? This paper addresses this challenge by making two substantial assumptions about explanatory practice. First, many of the propositions deployed in the course of explaining have a non-representational function. In particular, a proposition that a scientist uses and also believes to be false, i.e. an “idealization”, typically has some non-representational function in the practice, (...)
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  • Backing Without Realism.Elanor Taylor - forthcoming - Erkenntnis:1-21.
    Facts about explanation are often taken as a guide to facts about metaphysics. Such inferences from explanation to metaphysics typically rely on two elements: explanatory realism, the view that it is a characteristic and necessary aspect of explanation to give information about metaphysical structure, and a backing model of explanation, according to which explanations are backed by supporting relations, such as causation. Combining explanatory realism with a backing model permits conclusions about metaphysics to follow straightforwardly from facts about explanation, and (...)
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  • Viewing-as Explanations and Ontic Dependence.William D’Alessandro - 2020 - Philosophical Studies 177 (3):769-792.
    According to a widespread view in metaphysics and philosophy of science, all explanations involve relations of ontic dependence between the items appearing in the explanandum and the items appearing in the explanans. I argue that a family of mathematical cases, which I call “viewing-as explanations”, are incompatible with the Dependence Thesis. These cases, I claim, feature genuine explanations that aren’t supported by ontic dependence relations. Hence the thesis isn’t true in general. The first part of the paper defends this claim (...)
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  • Social Categories in Context.Elanor Taylor - 2020 - Journal of the American Philosophical Association 6 (2):171-187.
    Social categories play a central role in inquiry. Some authors have argued that social categories can only play this role because they have a particular metaphysical status, such as a connection to natural kinds or to comparatively joint-carving properties. This reflects the broadly realist idea that categories that play important roles in inquiry do so for metaphysical reasons. In this paper I argue that such metaphysical views of social categories cannot accommodate ‘empty’ social categories, cases in which social categories that (...)
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  • Debunking Logical Ground: Distinguishing Metaphysics From Semantics.Michaela Markham McSweeney - 2020 - Journal of the American Philosophical Association 6 (2):156-170.
    Many philosophers take purportedly logical cases of ground ) to be obvious cases, and indeed such cases have been used to motivate the existence of and importance of ground. I argue against this. I do so by motivating two kinds of semantic determination relations. Intuitions of logical ground track these semantic relations. Moreover, our knowledge of semantics for first order logic can explain why we have such intuitions. And, I argue, neither semantic relation can be a species of ground even (...)
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  • Ontic Explanation Is Either Ontic or Explanatory, but Not Both.Cory Wright & Dingmar van Eck - 2018 - Ergo: An Open Access Journal of Philosophy 5:997–1029.
    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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