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  1. Mathematics and Explanatory Generality: Nothing but Cognitive Salience.Juha Saatsi & Robert Knowles - 2019 - 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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  • 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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  • 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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  • 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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  • 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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  • 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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  • Imagination Extended and Embedded: Artifactual Versus Fictional Accounts of Models.Tarja Knuuttila - forthcoming - Synthese:1-21.
    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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  • 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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  • Taming the Tyranny of Scales: Models and Scale in the Geosciences.Alisa Bokulich - forthcoming - Synthese.
    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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  • 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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  • 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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  • Do fictions explain?James Nguyen - forthcoming - Synthese:1-26.
    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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  • 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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  • 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 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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  • 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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  • 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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  • 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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  • 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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  • 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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  • 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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  • 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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  • Two Kinds of Exploratory Models.Michela Massimi - forthcoming - Philosophy of Science.
    I analyse the exploratory function of two main modelling 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 either known to be non-existent or just hypothetical. I clarify the kind of imagining or conceiving involved in each modelling 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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  • 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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  • 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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  • 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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