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  1. Fictional mechanism explanations: clarifying explanatory holes in engineering science.Kristian González Barman - 2022 - European Journal for Philosophy of Science 12 (2):1-19.
    This paper discusses a class of mechanistic explanations employed in engineering science where the activities and organization of nonstandard entities are cited as core factors responsible for failures. Given the use of mechanistic language by engineers and the manifestly mechanistic structure of these explanations, I consider several interpretations of these explanations within the new mechanical framework. I argue that these interpretations fail to solve several philosophical problems and propose an account of fictional mechanism explanations instead. According to this account, fictional (...)
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  • Trueing.Holly Andersen - 2023 - In The Pragmatist Challenge: Pragmatist Metaphysics for Philosophy of Science. Oxford University Press.
    Even in areas of philosophy of science that don’t involve formal treatments of truth, one’s background view of truth still centrally shapes views on other issues. I offer an informal way to think about truth as trueing, like trueing a bicycle wheel. This holist approach to truth provides a way to discuss knowledge products like models in terms of how well-trued they are to their target. Trueing emphasizes: the process by which models are brought into true; how the idealizations in (...)
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  • Imagination Extended and Embedded: Artifactual Versus Fictional Accounts of Models.Tarja Knuuttila - 2017 - Synthese 198 (Suppl 21):5077-5097.
    This paper presents an artifactual approach to models that also addresses their fictional features. It discusses first the imaginary accounts of models and fiction that set model descriptions apart from imagined-objects, concentrating on the latter :251–268, 2010; Frigg and Nguyen in The Monist 99:225–242, 2016; Godfrey-Smith in Biol Philos 21:725–740, 2006; Philos Stud 143:101–116, 2009). While the imaginary approaches accommodate surrogative reasoning as an important characteristic of scientific modeling, they simultaneously raise difficult questions concerning how the imagined entities are related (...)
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  • Mirrors Without Warnings.Roman Frigg & James Nguyen - 2019 - Synthese 198 (3):2427-2447.
    Veritism, the position that truth is necessary for epistemic acceptability, seems to be in tension with the observation that much of our best science is not, strictly speaking, true when interpreted literally. This generates a paradox: truth is necessary for epistemic acceptability; the claims of science have to be taken literally; much of what science produces is not literally true and yet it is acceptable. We frame Elgin’s project in True Enough as being motivated by, and offering a particular resolution (...)
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  • Modeling Leadership in Tolkien’s Fiction: Craft and Wisdom, Gift and Task.Randall G. Colton - 2020 - Journal of Business Ethics 163 (3):401-415.
    This article contributes to conversations about the “Hitler problem” in leadership ethics and the use of literary narratives in leadership studies by proposing Tolkien’s fiction as a model of leadership. Resonating with Aristotelian and Thomistic themes, these narratives present leadership as more a matter of practical wisdom than of morally neutral craft, or, more precisely, they model leadership as a matter of using craft for the sake of wisdom’s ends. Those ends become intelligible in terms of a triadic account of (...)
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  • Backing as Truthmaking.Alexios Stamatiadis-Bréhier - 2021 - Canadian Journal of Philosophy 51 (5):367–383.
    Separatists about grounding take explanations to be separate from their corresponding grounding-facts. Grounding-facts are supposed to underlie, or back, such explanations. However, the backing relation hasn’t received much attention in the literature. The aim of this paper is to provide an informative definition of backing. First, I examine two prominent proposals: backing as explaining (Kovacs 2017; 2019a) and backing as grounding (see Sjölin Wirling 2020). Finally, I put forward my own proposal. I argue that under plausible assumptions about the role (...)
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  • The Economy of Nature: The Structure of Evolution in Linnaeus, Darwin, and the Modern Synthesis.Charles H. Pence & Daniel G. Swaim - 2017 - European Journal for Philosophy of Science 8 (3):435-454.
    We argue that the economy of nature constitutes an invocation of structure in the biological sciences, one largely missed by philosophers of biology despite the turn in recent years toward structural explanations throughout the philosophy of science. We trace a portion of the history of this concept, beginning with the theologically and economically grounded work of Linnaeus, moving through Darwin’s adaptation of the economy of nature and its reconstitution in genetic terms during the first decades of the Modern Synthesis. What (...)
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  • Mathematics and Explanatory Generality: Nothing but Cognitive Salience.Juha Saatsi & Robert Knowles - 2021 - Erkenntnis 86 (5):1119-1137.
    We demonstrate how real progress can be made in the debate surrounding the enhanced indispensability argument. Drawing on a counterfactual theory of explanation, well-motivated independently of the debate, we provide a novel analysis of ‘explanatory generality’ and how mathematics is involved in its procurement. On our analysis, mathematics’ sole explanatory contribution to the procurement of explanatory generality is to make counterfactual information about physical dependencies easier to grasp and reason with for creatures like us. This gives precise content to key (...)
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  • Towards a Synthesis of Two Research Programmes: Inference to the Best Explanation and Models of Scientific Explanation.Yunus Prasetya - forthcoming - Australasian Journal of Philosophy:1-15.
    There are two important philosophical research programmes on explanation in the twentieth century—the search for an account or model of scientific explanation, and the defence of inference to the best explanation as a rational form of inference. These two research programmes have largely developed independently from one another. This paper argues that bringing the two research programmes in contact promises to yield fruitful discussion. I consider and reject two arguments for keeping the two research programmes separate. I outline several issues (...)
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  • Two Kinds of Exploratory Models.Michela Massimi - 2019 - Philosophy of Science 86 (5):869-881.
    I analyze the exploratory function of two main modeling practices: targetless fictional models and hypothetical perspectival models. In both cases, I argue, modelers invite us to imagine or conceive something about the target system, which is known to be either nonexistent or just hypothetical. I clarify the kind of imagining or conceiving involved in each modeling practice, and I show how each—in its own right—delivers important modal knowledge. I illustrate these two kinds of exploratory models with Maxwell’s ether model and (...)
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  • Taming the Tyranny of Scales: Models and Scale in the Geosciences.Alisa Bokulich - 2021 - Synthese 199 (5-6):14167-14199.
    While the predominant focus of the philosophical literature on scientific modeling has been on single-scale models, most systems in nature exhibit complex multiscale behavior, requiring new modeling methods. This challenge of modeling phenomena across a vast range of spatial and temporal scales has been called the tyranny of scales problem. Drawing on research in the geosciences, I synthesize and analyze a number of strategies for taming this tyranny in the context of conceptual, physical, and mathematical modeling. This includes several strategies (...)
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  • Economic Methodology in the Twenty-First Century (So Far): Some Post-Reflection Reflections.Douglas Wade Hands - 2020 - Revue de Philosophie Économique 2:221-252.
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  • Representing and Explaining: The Eikonic Conception of Scientific Explanation.Alisa Bokulich - 2018 - Philosophy of Science (5):793-805.
    The ontic conception of explanation, according to which explanations are "full-bodied things in the world," is fundamentally misguided. I argue instead for what I call the eikonic conception, according to which explanations are the product of an epistemic activity involving representations of the phenomena to be explained. What is explained in the first instance is a particular conceptualization of the explanandum phenomenon, contextualized within a given research program or explanatory project. I conclude that this eikonic conception has a number of (...)
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  • Factive Inferentialism and the Puzzle of Model-Based Explanation.Philippe Verreault-Julien - 2021 - Synthese 199 (3-4):10039-10057.
    Highly idealized models may serve various epistemic functions, notably explanation, in virtue of representing the world. Inferentialism provides a prima facie compelling characterization of what constitutes the representation relation. In this paper, I argue that what I call factive inferentialism does not provide a satisfactory solution to the puzzle of model-based—factive—explanation. In particular, I show that making explanatory counterfactual inferences is not a sufficient guide for accurate representation, factivity, or realism. I conclude by calling for a more explicit specification of (...)
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  • Fictional Models and Fictional Representations.Sim-Hui Tee - 2018 - Axiomathes 28 (4):375-394.
    Scientific models consist of fictitious elements and assumptions. Various attempts have been made to answer the question of how a model, which is sometimes viewed as a fiction, can explain or predict the target phenomenon adequately. I examine two accounts of models-as-fictions which are aiming at disentangling the myth of representing the reality by fictional models. I argue that both views have their own weaknesses in spite of many virtues. I propose to re-evaluate the problems of representation from a novel (...)
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  • Semantic Realism in the Semantic Conception of Theories.Quentin Ruyant - 2021 - Synthese 198 (8):7965-7983.
    Semantic realism can be characterised as the idea that scientific theories are truth-bearers, and that they are true or false in virtue of the world. This notion is often assumed, but rarely discussed in the literature. I examine how it fares in the context of the semantic view of theories and in connection with the literature on scientific representation. Making sense of semantic realism requires specifying the conditions of application of theoretical models, even for models that are not actually used, (...)
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  • The Multifaceted Role of Imagination in Science and Religion. A Critical Examination of its Epistemic, Creative and Meaning-Making Functions.Ingrid Malm Lindberg - 2021 - Dissertation, Uppsala University
    The main purpose of this dissertation is to examine critically and discuss the role of imagination in science and religion, with particular emphasis on its possible epistemic, creative, and meaning-making functions. In order to answer my research questions, I apply theories and concepts from contemporary philosophy of mind on scientific and religious practices. This framework allows me to explore the mental state of imagination, not as an isolated phenomenon but, rather, as one of many mental states that co-exist and interplay (...)
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  • Data models, representation and adequacy-for-purpose.Alisa Bokulich & Wendy Parker - 2021 - European Journal for Philosophy of Science 11 (1):1-26.
    We critically engage two traditional views of scientific data and outline a novel philosophical view that we call the pragmatic-representational view of data. On the PR view, data are representations that are the product of a process of inquiry, and they should be evaluated in terms of their adequacy or fitness for particular purposes. Some important implications of the PR view for data assessment, related to misrepresentation, context-sensitivity, and complementary use, are highlighted. The PR view provides insight into the common (...)
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  • Quantum ontology without speculation.Matthias Egg - 2021 - European Journal for Philosophy of Science 11 (1):1-26.
    Existing proposals concerning the ontology of quantum mechanics either involve speculation that goes beyond the scientific evidence or abandon realism about large parts of QM. This paper proposes a way out of this dilemma, by showing that QM as it is formulated in standard textbooks allows for a much more substantive ontological commitment than is usually acknowledged. For this purpose, I defend a non-fundamentalist approach to ontology, which is then applied to various aspects of QM. In particular, I will defend (...)
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  • It’s Not a Game: Accurate Representation with Toy Models.James Nguyen - 2020 - British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 71 (3):1013-1041.
    Drawing on ‘interpretational’ accounts of scientific representation, I argue that the use of so-called ‘toy models’ provides no particular philosophical puzzle. More specifically; I argue that once one gives up the idea that models are accurate representations of their targets only if they are appropriately similar, then simple and highly idealized models can be accurate in the same way that more complex models can be. Their differences turn on trading precision for generality, but, if they are appropriately interpreted, toy models (...)
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  • Abstraction as an Autonomous Process in Scientific Modeling.Sim-Hui Tee - 2020 - Philosophia 48 (2):789-801.
    ion is one of the important processes in scientific modeling. It has always been implied that abstraction is an agent-centric activity that involves the cognitive processes of scientists in model building. I contend that there is an autonomous aspect of abstraction in many modeling activities. I argue that the autonomous process of abstraction is continuous with the agent-centric abstraction but capable of evolving independently from the modeler’s abstraction activity.
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  • Representation-supporting model elements.Sim-Hui Tee - 2020 - Biology and Philosophy 35 (1):1-24.
    It is assumed that scientific models contain no superfluous model elements in scientific representation. A representational model is constructed with all the model elements serving the representational purpose. The received view has it that there are no redundant model elements which are non-representational. Contrary to this received view, I argue that there exist some non-representational model elements which are essential in scientific representation. I call them representation-supporting model elements in virtue of the fact that they play the role to support (...)
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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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  • Scientific Realism Meets Metaphysics of Quantum Mechanics.Juha Saatsi - 2017 - In Philosophers Think About Quantum Theory.
    I examine the epistemological debate on scientific realism in the context of quantum physics, focusing on the empirical underdetermin- ation of different formulations and interpretations of QM. I will argue that much of the interpretational, metaphysical work on QM tran- scends the kinds of realist commitments that are well-motivated in the light of the history of science. I sketch a way of demarcating empirically well-confirmed aspects of QM from speculative quantum metaphysics in a way that coheres with anti-realist evidence from (...)
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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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  • The Nature of Model-World Comparisons.Fiora Salis - 2016 - The Monist 99 (3):243-259.
    Upholders of fictionalism about scientific models have not yet successfully explained how scientists can learn about the real world by making comparisons between models and the real phenomena they stand for. In this paper I develop an account of model-world comparisons in terms of what I take to be the best antirealist analyses of comparative claims that emerge from the current debate on fiction.
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  • The Truth About Better Understanding?Lewis Ross - forthcoming - Erkenntnis:1-24.
    The notion of understanding occupies an increasingly prominent place in contemporary epistemology, philosophy of science, and moral theory. A central and ongoing debate about the nature of understanding is how it relates to the truth. In a series of influential contributions, Catherine Elgin has used a variety of familiar motivations for antirealism in philosophy of science to defend a non- factive theory of understanding. Key to her position are: (i) the fact that false theories can contribute to the upwards trajectory (...)
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  • Realism and Explanatory Perspectivism.Juha Saatsi - forthcoming - In Michela Massimi & C. D. McCoy (eds.), Understanding Perspectivism: Scientific Challenges and Methodological Prospects. New York: Routledge.
    This chapter defends a (minimal) realist conception of progress in scientific understanding in the face of the ubiquitous plurality of perspectives in science. The argument turns on the counterfactual-dependence framework of explanation and understanding, which is illustrated and evidenced with reference to different explanations of the rainbow.
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  • Mechanist Idealisation in Systems Biology.Dingmar van Eck & Cory Wright - 2020 - Synthese 199 (1-2):1555-1575.
    This paper adds to the philosophical literature on mechanistic explanation by elaborating two related explanatory functions of idealisation in mechanistic models. The first function involves explaining the presence of structural/organizational features of mechanisms by reference to their role as difference-makers for performance requirements. The second involves tracking counterfactual dependency relations between features of mechanisms and features of mechanistic explanandum phenomena. To make these functions salient, we relate our discussion to an exemplar from systems biological research on the mechanism for countering (...)
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  • 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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  • Scientific Understanding and Felicitous Legitimate Falsehoods.Insa Lawler - 2021 - Synthese 198 (7):6859-6887.
    Science is replete with falsehoods that epistemically facilitate understanding by virtue of being the very falsehoods they are. In view of this puzzling fact, some have relaxed the truth requirement on understanding. I offer a factive view of understanding that fully accommodates the puzzling fact in four steps: (i) I argue that the question how these falsehoods are related to the phenomenon to be understood and the question how they figure into the content of understanding it are independent. (ii) I (...)
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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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  • How-Possibly Explanations in Economics: Anything Goes?Till Grüne-Yanoff & Philippe Verreault-Julien - 2021 - Journal of Economic Methodology 28 (1):114-123.
    The recent literature on economic models has rejected the traditional requirement that their epistemic value necessary depended on them offering actual explanations of phenomena. Contributors to that literature have argued that many models do not aim at providing how-actually explanations, but instead how-possibly explanations. However, how to assess the epistemic value of HPEs remains an open question. We present a programmatic approach to answering it. We first introduce a conceptual framework that distinguishes how-actually explanations from how-possibly explanations and that further (...)
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  • Permissible Idealizations for the Purpose of Prediction.Michael Strevens - 2021 - Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part A 85:92-100.
    Every model leaves out or distorts some factors that are causally connected to its target phenomenon -- the phenomenon that it seeks to predict or explain. If we want to make predictions, and we want to base decisions on those predictions, what is it safe to omit or to simplify, and what ought a causal model to describe fully and correctly? A schematic answer: the factors that matter are those that make a difference to the target phenomenon. There are several (...)
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  • Conceptual Constructive Models and Abstraction-as-Aggregation.Sim-Hui Tee - 2021 - Philosophia 49 (2):819-837.
    Conceptual constructive models are a type of scientific model that can be used to construct or reshape the target phenomenon conceptually. Though it has received scant attention from the philosophers, it raises an intriguing issue of how a conceptual constructive model can construct the target phenomenon in a conceptual way. Proponents of the conception of conceptual constructive models are not being explicit about the application of the constructive force of a model in the target construction. It is far from clear (...)
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  • Losing Sight of the Forest for the Ψ: Beyond the Wavefunction Hegemony.Alisa Bokulich - 2019 - In Steven French & Juha Saatsi (eds.), Scientific Realism and the Quantum. Oxford University Press.
    Traditionally Ψ is used to stand in for both the mathematical wavefunction (the representation) and the quantum state (the thing in the world). This elision has been elevated to a metaphysical thesis by advocates of the view known as wavefunction realism. My aim in this paper is to challenge the hegemony of the wavefunction by calling attention to a little-known formulation of quantum theory that does not make use of the wavefunction in representing the quantum state. This approach, called Lagrangian (...)
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  • Idealization and the Ontic Conception: A Reply to Bokulich.Carl F. Craver - 2019 - The Monist 102 (4):525-530.
    In a recent issue of The Monist, Alisa Bokulich argues that those who embrace an ontic conception of scientific explanation are committed to rejecting an explanatory role for idealized, i.e., deliberately false, models. Her argument is based on an inaccurate characterization of the ontic view. Indeed, her positive view of idealization embraces rather than opposes the ontic conception. Because Bokulich is not alone in this misunderstanding, an effort to diagnose and correct it might prevent scholars from talking past one another (...)
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  • Idealizations and Understanding: Much Ado About Nothing?Emily Sullivan & Kareem Khalifa - 2019 - Australasian Journal of Philosophy 97 (4):673-689.
    Because idealizations frequently advance scientific understanding, many claim that falsehoods play an epistemic role. In this paper, we argue that these positions greatly overstate idealiza...
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