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Introduction: Scientific Explanation Beyond Causation

In Alexander Reutlinger & Juha Saatsi (eds.), Explanation Beyond Causation: Philosophical Perspectives on Non-Causal Explanations. Oxford, United Kingdom: Oxford University Press (2018)

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  1. Grounding Functionalism and Explanatory Unificationism.Alexios Stamatiadis-Bréhier - 2023 - Journal of the American Philosophical Association 9 (4):799-819.
    In this essay, I propose a functionalist theory of grounding (functionalist-grounding). Specifically, I argue that grounding is a second-order phenomenon that is realized by relations that play the noncausal explanatoriness role. I also show that functionalist-grounding can deal with a powerful challenge. Appeals to explanatory unificationism have been made to argue that the success of noncausal explanations does not depend on the existence of grounding relations. Against this, I argue that a systematization involving functionalist-grounding is superior to its anti-relational counterpart.
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  • Explanatory Asymmetry in Non-Causal Explanation.Andrew Wayne - 2022 - Journal for General Philosophy of Science / Zeitschrift für Allgemeine Wissenschaftstheorie 53 (4):555-571.
    The problem of explanatory asymmetry remains a serious challenge for non-causal accounts of explanation. This paper proposes a novel solution, and it does so by appealing to the theoretical context in which an explanation is offered. The paper develops the problem of explanatory asymmetry for non-causal dependency accounts of explanation, focusing specifically on Alexander Reutlinger’s Counterfactual Theory of Explanation and recent work by Marc Lange and Lina Jansson. It defends the idea that nomological possibility with respect to a global theory (...)
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  • Understanding does not depend on (causal) explanation.Philippe Verreault-Julien - 2019 - European Journal for Philosophy of Science 9 (2):18.
    One can find in the literature two sets of views concerning the relationship between understanding and explanation: that one understands only if 1) one has knowledge of causes and 2) that knowledge is provided by an explanation. Taken together, these tenets characterize what I call the narrow knowledge account of understanding. While the first tenet has recently come under severe attack, the second has been more resistant to change. I argue that we have good reasons to reject it on the (...)
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  • Some Concerns Regarding Explanatory Pluralism: The Explanatory Role of Optimality Models.Gabriel Târziu - 2019 - Filozofia Nauki 28 (4):95-113.
    Optimality models are widely used in different parts of biology. Two important questions that have been asked about such models are: are they explanatory and, if so, what type of explanations do they offer? My concern in this paper is with the approach of Rice (2012, 2015) and Irvine (2015), who claim that these models provide non-causal explanations. I argue that there are serious problems with this approach and with the accounts of explanation it is intended to justify. The idea (...)
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  • Expanding Observability via Human-Machine Cooperation.Petr Spelda & Vit Stritecky - 2022 - Axiomathes 32 (3):819-832.
    We ask how to use machine learning to expand observability, which presently depends on human learning that informs conceivability. The issue is engaged by considering the question of correspondence between conceived observability counterfactuals and observable, yet so far unobserved or unconceived, states of affairs. A possible answer lies in importing out of reference frame content which could provide means for conceiving further observability counterfactuals. They allow us to define high-fidelity observability, increasing the level of correspondence in question. To achieve high-fidelity (...)
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  • Micro-level model explanation and counterfactual constraint.Samuel Schindler - 2022 - European Journal for Philosophy of Science 12 (2):1-27.
    Relationships of counterfactual dependence have played a major role in recent debates of explanation and understanding in the philosophy of science. Usually, counterfactual dependencies have been viewed as the explanantia of explanation, i.e., the things providing explanation and understanding. Sometimes, however, counterfactual dependencies are themselves the targets of explanations in science. These kinds of explanations are the focus of this paper. I argue that “micro-level model explanations” explain the particular form of the empirical regularity underlying a counterfactual dependency by representing (...)
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  • Metaphysical explanations and the counterfactual theory of explanation.Stefan Roski - 2020 - Philosophical Studies 178 (6):1971-1991.
    According to an increasingly popular view among philosophers of science, both causal and non-causal explanations can be accounted for by a single theory: the counterfactual theory of explanation. A kind of non-causal explanation that has gained much attention recently but that this theory seems unable to account for are grounding explanations. Reutlinger :239-256, 2017) has argued that, despite these appearances to the contrary, such explanations are covered by his version of the counterfactual theory. His idea is supported by recent work (...)
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  • The Prospects for a Monist Theory of Non-causal Explanation in Science and Mathematics.Alexander Reutlinger, Mark Colyvan & Karolina Krzyżanowska - 2020 - Erkenntnis 87 (4):1773-1793.
    We explore the prospects of a monist account of explanation for both non-causal explanations in science and pure mathematics. Our starting point is the counterfactual theory of explanation for explanations in science, as advocated in the recent literature on explanation. We argue that, despite the obvious differences between mathematical and scientific explanation, the CTE can be extended to cover both non-causal explanations in science and mathematical explanations. In particular, a successful application of the CTE to mathematical explanations requires us to (...)
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  • Geometrical Constructivism and Modal Relationalism: Further Aspects of the Dynamical/Geometrical Debate.James Read - 2020 - International Studies in the Philosophy of Science 33 (1):23-41.
    I draw together some recent literature on the debate between dynamical versus geometrical approaches to spacetime theories, in order to argue that there exist defensible versions of the geometr...
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  • The Directionality of Topological Explanations.Daniel Kostić & Kareem Khalifa - 2021 - Synthese (5-6):14143-14165.
    Proponents of ontic conceptions of explanation require all explanations to be backed by causal, constitutive, or similar relations. Among their justifications is that only ontic conceptions can do justice to the ‘directionality’ of explanation, i.e., the requirement that if X explains Y , then not-Y does not explain not-X . Using topological explanations as an illustration, we argue that non-ontic conceptions of explanation have ample resources for securing the directionality of explanations. The different ways in which neuroscientists rely on multiplexes (...)
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  • Is Verstehen Scientific Understanding?Kareem Khalifa - 2019 - Philosophy of the Social Sciences 49 (4):282-306.
    Many have argued that the human sciences feature a unique form of understanding that is absent from the natural sciences. However, in the last decade or so, epistemologists and philosop...
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  • Plumbing metaphysical explanatory depth.Nicholas Emmerson - forthcoming - Philosophical Studies:1-22.
    Recent years have seen increasing interest in interventionist analyses of metaphysical explanation. One area where interventionism traditionally shines, is in providing an account of explanatory depth; the sense in which explanation comes in degrees. However, the literature on metaphysical explanation has left the notion of depth almost entirely unexplored. In this paper I shall attempt to rectify this oversight by motivating an interventionist analysis of metaphysical explanatory depth (MED), in terms of the range of interventions under which a metaphysically explanatory (...)
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  • The general-relativistic case for super-substantivalism.Claudio Calosi & Patrick M. Duerr - 2021 - Synthese 199 (5-6):13789-13822.
    Super-substantivalism (of the type we’ll consider) roughly comprises two core tenets: (1) the physical properties which we attribute to matter (e.g. charge or mass) can be attributed to spacetime directly, with no need for matter as an extraneous carrier “on top of” spacetime; (2) spacetime is more fundamental than (ontologically prior to) matter. In the present paper, we revisit a recent argument in favour of super-substantivalism, based on General Relativity. A critique is offered that highlights the difference between (various accounts (...)
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  • An epistemological challenge to ontological bruteness.Joshua Matthan Brown - 2021 - International Journal for Philosophy of Religion 91 (1):23-41.
    It is often assumed that the first stage of many classical arguments for theism depends upon some version of the Principle of Sufficient Reason being true. Unfortunately for classical theists, PSR is a controversial thesis that has come under rather severe criticism in the contemporary literature. In this article, I grant for the sake of argument that every version of PSR is false. Thus, I concede with the critics of PSR, that it is possible that there is, at least, one (...)
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  • Are Identities Unexplainable? Towards a Non‐causal Contrastive Explanation of Identities.Lorenzo Azzano & Massimiliano Carrara - 2020 - Theoria 87 (2):457-482.
    Can an identity be the proper subject of an explanation? A popular stance, albeit not one often argued for, gives a negative answer to this question. Building from a contentious passage from Jaegwon Kim in this direction, we reconstruct an argument to the conclusion that identities, to the extent in which they are necessary, cannot be explained. The notion of contrastive explanation, characterized as difference-seeking, will be crucial for this argument; however, we will eventually find the argument to be unsatisfactory. (...)
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