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In this paper, I propose that applying the methods of data science to “the problem of whether mathematical explanations occur within mathematics itself” (Mancosu 2018) might be a fruitful way to shed new light on the problem. By carefully selecting indicator words for explanation and justification, and then systematically searching for these indicators in databases of scholarly works in mathematics, we can get an idea of how mathematicians use these terms in mathematical practice and with what frequency. The results of (...) 

This article examines three candidate cases of noncausal explanation in computational neuroscience. I argue that there are instances of efficient coding explanation that are strongly analogous to examples of noncausal explanation in physics and biology, as presented by Batterman, Woodward, and Lange. By integrating Lange’s and Woodward’s accounts, I offer a new way to elucidate the distinction between causal and noncausal explanation, and to address concerns about the explanatory sufficiency of nonmechanistic models in neuroscience. I also use this framework to (...) 

This chapter examines the relationship between laws and mechanisms as approaches to characterising generalizations and explanations in science. I give an overview of recent historical discussions where laws failed to satisfy stringent logical criteria, opening the way for mechanisms to be investigated as a way to explain regularities in nature. This followed by a critical discussion of contemporary debates about the role of laws versus mechanisms in describing versus explaining regularities. I conclude by offering new arguments for two roles for (...) 

In the recent literature on causal and noncausal scientific explanations, there is an intuitive assumption according to which an explanation is noncausal by virtue of being abstract. In this context, to be ‘abstract’ means that the explanans in question leaves out many or almost all causal microphysical details of the target system. After motivating this assumption, we argue that the abstractness assumption, in placing the abstract and the causal character of an explanation in tension, is misguided in ways that are (...) 

I consider three explanatory strategies from recent systems biology that are driven by mathematics as much as mechanistic detail. Analysis of differential equations drives the first strategy; topological analysis of network motifs drives the second; mathematical theorems from control engineering drive the third. I also distinguish three abstraction types: aggregations, which simplify by condensing information; generalizations, which simplify by generalizing information; and structurations, which simplify by contextualizing information. Using a common explanandum as reference point—namely, the robust perfect adaptation of chemotaxis (...) 

Because Without Cause: NonCausal Explanations in Science and Mathematics, by Lange Marc. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2017. Pp. xxii + 489. 

In “What Makes a Scientific Explanation Distinctively Mathematical?” (2013b), Lange uses several compelling examples to argue that certain explanations for natural phenomena appeal primarily to mathematical, rather than natural, facts. In such explanations, the core explanatory facts are modally stronger than facts about causation, regularity, and other natural relations. We show that Lange's account of distinctively mathematical explanation is flawed in that it fails to account for the implicit directionality in each of his examples. This inadequacy is remediable in each (...) 

© Mind Association 2018Derek Parfit’s death just before the publication of the third, and now perhaps last, volume of On What Matters makes reviewing it a rather melancholy task. That his death is a serious loss to moral philosophy goes without saying. As for this review, it is sad that there is no longer the possibility of discussing with him the disagreements it raises, or learning from his responses. His ideas and arguments in this volume are as fresh and forceful (...) 

Statistical reasoning is an integral part of modern scientific practice. In The Seven Pillars of Statistical Wisdom Stephen Stigler presents seven core ideas, or pillars, of statistical thinking and the historical developments of each of these pillars, many of which were concurrent with developments in biology. Here we focus on Stigler’s fifth pillar, regression, and his discussion of how regression to the mean came to be thought of as a solution to a challenge for the theory of natural selection. Stigler (...) 

