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How scientific models can explain

Synthese 180 (1):33 - 45 (2011)

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  1. On the Ostrogradski Instability; or, Why Physics Really Uses Second Derivatives.Noel Swanson - forthcoming - British Journal for the Philosophy of Science:axz042.
    Candidates for fundamental physical laws rarely, if ever, employ higher than second time derivatives. Easwaran sketches an enticing story that purports to explain away this puzzling fact and thereby provides indirect evidence for a particular set of metaphysical theses used in the explanation. I object to both the scope and coherence of Easwaran's account, before going on to defend an alternative, more metaphysically deflationary explanation: in interacting Lagrangian field theories, it is either impossible or very hard to incorporate higher than (...)
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  • Mechanistic and Topological Explanations: An Introduction.Daniel Kostic - 2018 - Synthese 195 (1).
    In the last 20 years or so, since the publication of a seminal paper by Watts and Strogatz :440–442, 1998), an interest in topological explanations has spread like a wild fire over many areas of science, e.g. ecology, evolutionary biology, medicine, and cognitive neuroscience. The topological approach is still very young by all standards, and even within special sciences it still doesn’t have a single methodological programme that is applicable across all areas of science. That is why this special issue (...)
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  • When Do Scientific Explanations Compete? Steps Toward a Heuristic Checklist.Todd Jones & Michael Pravica - 2017 - Metaphilosophy 48 (1-2):96-122.
    It's not uncommon for scientists to give different explanations of the same phenomenon, but we currently lack clear guidelines for deciding whether to treat such accounts as competitors. This article discusses how science studies can help create tools and guidelines for thinking about whether explanations compete. It also specifies how one family of discourse rules enables there to be differing accounts that appear to compete but don't. One hopes that being more aware of the linguistic mechanisms making compatible accounts appear (...)
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  • Skill Transmittance in Science Education.Brandon Boesch - 2019 - Science & Education 28 (1-2):45-61.
    It is widely argued that the skills of scientific expertise are tacit, meaning that they are difficult to study. In this essay, I draw on work from the philosophy of action about the nature of skills to show that there is another access point for the study of skills—namely, skill transmission in science education. I will begin by outlining Small’s Aristotelian account of skills, including a brief exposition of its advantages over alternative accounts of skills. He argues that skills exist (...)
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  • String Theory, Non-Empirical Theory Assessment, and the Context of Pursuit.Frank Cabrera - 2018 - Synthese:1-29.
    In this paper, I offer an analysis of the radical disagreement over the adequacy of string theory. The prominence of string theory despite its notorious lack of empirical support is sometimes explained as a troubling case of science gone awry, driven largely by sociological mechanisms such as groupthink (e.g. Smolin 2006). Others, such as Dawid (2013), explain the controversy by positing a methodological revolution of sorts, according to which string theorists have quietly turned to nonempirical methods of theory assessment given (...)
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  • Idealization and the Aims of Economics: Three Cheers for Instrumentalism: Julian Reiss.Julian Reiss - 2012 - Economics and Philosophy 28 (3):363-383.
    This paper aims to provide characterizations of realism and instrumentalism that are philosophically interesting and applicable to economics; and to defend instrumentalism against realism as a methodological stance in economics. Starting point is the observation that ‘all models are false’, which, or so I argue, is difficult to square with the realist's aim of truth, even if the latter is understood as ‘partial’ or ‘approximate’. The three cheers in favour of instrumentalism are: Once we have usefulness, truth is redundant. There (...)
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  • Eight Other Questions About Explanation.Angela Potochnik - 2018 - In Alexander Reutlinger & Juha Saatsi (eds.), Explanation Beyond Causation: Philosophical Perspectives on Non-Causal Explanations. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
    The tremendous philosophical focus on how to characterize explanatory metaphysical dependence has eclipsed a number of other unresolved issued about scientific explanation. The purpose of this paper is taxonomical. I will outline a number of other questions about the nature of explanation and its role in science—eight, to be precise—and argue that each is independent. All of these topics have received some philosophical attention, but none nearly so much as it deserves. Furthermore, existing views on these topics have been obscured (...)
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  • Functional Analyses, Mechanistic Explanations, and Explanatory Tradeoffs.Sergio Daniel Barberis - 2013 - Journal of Cognitive Science 14:229-251.
    Recently, Piccinini and Craver have stated three theses concerning the relations between functional analysis and mechanistic explanation in cognitive sciences: No Distinctness: functional analysis and mechanistic explanation are explanations of the same kind; Integration: functional analysis is a kind of mechanistic explanation; and Subordination: functional analyses are unsatisfactory sketches of mechanisms. In this paper, I argue, first, that functional analysis and mechanistic explanations are sub-kinds of explanation by scientific (idealized) models. From that point of view, we must take into account (...)
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  • Inference, Explanation, and Asymmetry.Kareem Khalifa, Jared Millson & Mark Risjord - 2018 - Synthese.
    Explanation is asymmetric: if A explains B, then B does not explain A. Tradition- ally, the asymmetry of explanation was thought to favor causal accounts of explanation over their rivals, such as those that take explanations to be inferences. In this paper, we develop a new inferential approach to explanation that outperforms causal approaches in accounting for the asymmetry of explanation.
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  • Cajal’s Law of Dynamic Polarization: Mechanism and Design.Sergio Daniel Barberis - 2018 - Philosophies 3 (2):11-0.
    Santiago Ramón y Cajal, the primary architect of the neuron doctrine and the law of dynamic polarization, is considered to be the founder of modern neuroscience. At the same time, many philosophers, historians, and neuroscientists agree that modern neuroscience embodies a mechanistic perspective on the explanation of the nervous system. In this paper, I review the extant mechanistic interpretation of Cajal’s contribution to modern neuroscience. Then, I argue that the extant mechanistic interpretation fails to capture the explanatory import of Cajal’s (...)
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  • Counterfactuals and Explanatory Pluralism.Kareem Khalifa, Gabriel Doble & Jared Millson - forthcoming - British Journal for the Philosophy of Science.
    Recent literature on noncausal explanation raises the question as to whether explanatory monism, the thesis that all explanations submit to the same analysis, is true. The leading monist proposal holds that all explanations support change-relating counterfactuals. We provide several objections to this monist position.
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  • Causal Patterns and Adequate Explanations.Angela Potochnik - 2015 - Philosophical Studies 172 (5):1163-1182.
    Causal accounts of scientific explanation are currently broadly accepted (though not universally so). My first task in this paper is to show that, even for a causal approach to explanation, significant features of explanatory practice are not determined by settling how causal facts bear on the phenomenon to be explained. I then develop a broadly causal approach to explanation that accounts for the additional features that I argue an explanation should have. This approach to explanation makes sense of several aspects (...)
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  • Viewing-as Explanations and Ontic Dependence.William D’Alessandro - forthcoming - Philosophical Studies:1-24.
    According to a widespread view in metaphysics and philosophy of science (the “Dependence Thesis”), 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 (...)
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  • Minimal Models and the Generalized Ontic Conception of Scientific Explanation.Mark Povich - 2018 - British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 69 (1):117-137.
    Batterman and Rice ([2014]) argue that minimal models possess explanatory power that cannot be captured by what they call ‘common features’ approaches to explanation. Minimal models are explanatory, according to Batterman and Rice, not in virtue of accurately representing relevant features, but in virtue of answering three questions that provide a ‘story about why large classes of features are irrelevant to the explanandum phenomenon’ ([2014], p. 356). In this article, I argue, first, that a method (the renormalization group) they propose (...)
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  • Models and Mechanisms in Psychological Explanation.Daniel A. Weiskopf - 2011 - Synthese 183 (3):313-338.
    Mechanistic explanation has an impressive track record of advancing our understanding of complex, hierarchically organized physical systems, particularly biological and neural systems. But not every complex system can be understood mechanistically. Psychological capacities are often understood by providing cognitive models of the systems that underlie them. I argue that these models, while superficially similar to mechanistic models, in fact have a substantially more complex relation to the real underlying system. They are typically constructed using a range of techniques for abstracting (...)
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  • Explanation in Computational Neuroscience: Causal and Non-Causal.M. Chirimuuta - 2018 - British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 69 (3):849-880.
    This article examines three candidate cases of non-causal explanation in computational neuroscience. I argue that there are instances of efficient coding explanation that are strongly analogous to examples of non-causal 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 non-causal explanation, and to address concerns about the explanatory sufficiency of non-mechanistic models in neuroscience. I also use this framework to (...)
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  • On the ‘Indispensable Explanatory Role’ of Mathematics.Juha Saatsi - 2016 - Mind 125 (500):1045-1070.
    The literature on the indispensability argument for mathematical realism often refers to the ‘indispensable explanatory role’ of mathematics. I argue that we should examine the notion of explanatory indispensability from the point of view of specific conceptions of scientific explanation. The reason is that explanatory indispensability in and of itself turns out to be insufficient for justifying the ontological conclusions at stake. To show this I introduce a distinction between different kinds of explanatory roles—some ‘thick’ and ontologically committing, others ‘thin’ (...)
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  • Causal Theories of Explanation and the Challenge of Explanatory Disagreement.Lina Jansson - 2014 - Philosophy of Science 81 (3):332-348.
    When evaluating the success of causal theories of explanation the focus has typically been on the legitimacy of causal relations and on putative examples of explanations that we cannot capture in causal terms. Here I motivate the existence of a third kind of problem: the difficulty of accounting for explanatory disputes. Moreover, I argue that this problem remains even if the first two are settled and that it threatens to undercut one of the central motivations for causal accounts of explanation, (...)
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  • Models, Mechanisms, and Coherence.Matteo Colombo, Stephan Hartmann & Robert van Iersel - 2015 - British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 66 (1):181-212.
    Life-science phenomena are often explained by specifying the mechanisms that bring them about. The new mechanistic philosophers have done much to substantiate this claim and to provide us with a better understanding of what mechanisms are and how they explain. Although there is disagreement among current mechanists on various issues, they share a common core position and a seeming commitment to some form of scientific realism. But is such a commitment necessary? Is it the best way to go about mechanistic (...)
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  • Localization and Intrinsic Function.Charles Rathkopf - 2013 - Philosophy of Science 80 (1):1-21.
    This paper describes one style of functional analysis commonly used in the neurosciences called task-bound functional analysis. The concept of function invoked by this style of analysis is distinctive in virtue of the dependence relations it bears to transient environmental properties. It is argued that task-bound functional analysis cannot explain the presence of structural properties in nervous systems. An alternative concept of neural function is introduced that draws on the theoretical neuroscience literature, and an argument is given to show that (...)
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  • A Verisimilitudinarian Analysis of the Linda Paradox.Gustavo Cevolani, Vincenzo Crupi & Roberto Festa - 2012 - VII Conference of the Spanish Society for Logic, Methodology and Philosphy of Science.
    The Linda paradox is a key topic in current debates on the rationality of human reasoning and its limitations. We present a novel analysis of this paradox, based on the notion of verisimilitude as studied in the philosophy of science. The comparison with an alternative analysis based on probabilistic confirmation suggests how to overcome some problems of our account by introducing an adequately defined notion of verisimilitudinarian confirmation.
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  • The Narrow Ontic Counterfactual Account of Distinctively Mathematical Explanation.Mark Povich - 2019 - British Journal for the Philosophy of Science:axz008.
    An account of distinctively mathematical explanation (DME) should satisfy three desiderata: it should account for the modal import of some DMEs; it should distinguish uses of mathematics in explanation that are distinctively mathematical from those that are not (Baron [2016]); and it should also account for the directionality of DMEs (Craver and Povich [2017]). Baron’s (forthcoming) deductive-mathematical account, because it is modelled on the deductive-nomological account, is unlikely to satisfy these desiderata. I provide a counterfactual account of DME, the Narrow (...)
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  • Iconically Modeling a Demolition Process in the Photobook Palast Der Republik.Letícia Alves Vitral & João Queiroz - 2018 - Semiotica 2018 (224):191-209.
    Palast der Republik, by the photographer Christoph Rokitta, is an independent photobook published in 2013 in Berlin. In the photobook different semiotic resources are coupled in order to iconically model the demolition of the homonymous building in Berlin. In opposition to the trivial notion of icon as sign that stands for its object in a relation of similarity, we analyze the photobook as an icon whose main feature is the possibility of discovering information about its object through its manipulation. This (...)
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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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  • Searching for Noncausal Explanations in a Sea of Causes.Alisa Bokulich - 2018 - In Alexander Reutlinger & Juha Saatsi (eds.), Explanation Beyond Causation: Philosophical Perspectives on Non-Causal Explanations. Oxford University Press.
    In the spirit of explanatory pluralism, this chapter argues that causal and noncausal explanations of a phenomenon are compatible, each being useful for bringing out different sorts of insights. After reviewing a model-based account of scientific explanation, which can accommodate causal and noncausal explanations alike, an important core conception of noncausal explanation is identified. This noncausal form of model-based explanation is illustrated using the example of how Earth scientists in a subfield known as aeolian geomorphology are explaining the formation of (...)
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  • Explanatory Integration.Andrew Wayne - 2017 - European Journal for Philosophy of Science:1-19.
    The goal of this paper is to show how scientific explanation functions in the context of idealized models. It argues that the aspect of explanation most urgently requiring investigation is the nature of the connection between global theories and explanatory local models. This aspect is neglected in traditional accounts of explanation. The paper examines causal, minimal model, and structural accounts of model-based explanation. It argues that they too fail to offer an account of the connection with global theory that can (...)
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  • The Nonmechanistic Option: Defending Dynamical Explanation.Russell Meyer - 2018 - British Journal for the Philosophy of Science:0-0.
    This paper demonstrates that nonmechanistic, dynamical explanations are a viable approach to explanation in the special sciences. The claim that dynamical models can be explanatory without reference to mechanisms has previously been met with three lines of criticism from mechanists: the causal relevance concern, the genuine laws concern, and the charge of predictivism. I argue, however, that these mechanist criticisms fail to defeat nonmechanistic, dynamical explanation. Using the examples of Haken et al.’s ([1985]) HKB model of bimanual coordination, and Thelen (...)
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  • Robustness, Evidence, and Uncertainty: An Exploration of Policy Applications of Robustness Analysis.Nicolas Wüthrich - unknown
    Policy-makers face an uncertain world. One way of getting a handle on decision-making in such an environment is to rely on evidence. Despite the recent increase in post-fact figures in politics, evidence-based policymaking takes centre stage in policy-setting institutions. Often, however, policy-makers face large volumes of evidence from different sources. Robustness analysis can, prima facie, handle this evidential diversity. Roughly, a hypothesis is supported by robust evidence if the different evidential sources are in agreement. In this thesis, I strengthen the (...)
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  • Talk About Toy Models.Joshua Luczak - 2017 - Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part B: Studies in History and Philosophy of Modern Physics 57:1-7.
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  • Explaining with Models: The Role of Idealizations.Julie Jebeile & Ashley Graham Kennedy - 2015 - International Studies in the Philosophy of Science 29 (4):383-392.
    Because they contain idealizations, scientific models are often considered to be misrepresentations of their target systems. An important question is therefore how models can explain the behaviours of these systems. Most of the answers to this question are representationalist in nature. Proponents of this view are generally committed to the claim that models are explanatory if they represent their target systems to some degree of accuracy; in other words, they try to determine the conditions under which idealizations can be made (...)
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  • Causal Relations and Explanatory Strategies in Physics.Andrew Wayne - 2015 - International Studies in the Philosophy of Science 29 (1):75-89.
    Many philosophers now regard causal approaches to explanation as highly promising, even in physics. This is due in large part to James Woodward's influential argument that a wide variety of scientific explanations are causal, based on his interventionist approach to causation. This article argues that some derivations describing causal relations and satisfying Woodward's criteria for causal explanation fail to be explanatory. Further, causal relations are unnecessary for a range of explanations, widespread in physics, involving highly idealized models. These constitute significant (...)
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  • Abstraction as an Autonomous Process in Scientific Modeling.Sim-Hui Tee - forthcoming - Philosophia:1-13.
    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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  • Psa 2012.-Preprint Volume- - unknown
    These preprints were automatically compiled into a PDF from the collection of papers deposited in PhilSci-Archive in conjunction with the PSA 2012.
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  • Reassessing Woodward’s Account of Explanation: Regularities, Counterfactuals, and Noncausal Explanations.Juha Saatsi & Mark Pexton - 2013 - Philosophy of Science 80 (5):613-624.
    We reassess Woodward’s counterfactual account of explanation in relation to regularity explananda. Woodward presents an account of causal explanation. We argue, by using an explanation of Kleiber’s law to illustrate, that the account can also cover some noncausal explanations. This leads to a tension between the two key aspects of Woodward’s account: the counterfactual aspect and the causal aspect. We explore this tension and make a case for jettisoning the causal aspect as constitutive of explanatory power in connection with regularity (...)
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  • Mechanisms Meet Structural Explanation.Laura Felline - 2018 - Synthese 195 (1):99-114.
    This paper investigates the relationship between structural explanation and the New Mechanistic account of explanation. The aim of this paper is twofold: firstly, to argue that some phenomena in the domain of fundamental physics, although mechanically brute, are structurally explained; and secondly, by elaborating on the contrast between SE and mechanistic explanation to better clarify some features of SE. Finally, this paper will argue that, notwithstanding their apparently antithetical character, SE and ME can be reconciled within a unified account of (...)
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  • Finding Truth in Fictions: Identifying Non-Fictions in Imaginary Cracks.Gordon Purves - 2013 - Synthese 190 (2):235-251.
    I critically examine some recent work on the philosophy of scientific fictions, focusing on the work of Winsberg. By considering two case studies in fracture mechanics, the strip yield model and the imaginary crack method, I argue that his reliance upon the social norms associated with an element of a model forces him to remain silent whenever those norms fail to clearly match the characteristic of fictions or non-fictions. In its place, I propose a normative epistemology of fictions which clarifies (...)
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  • Explanatory Fictions—for Real?Samuel Schindler - 2014 - Synthese 191 (8):1741-1755.
    In this article I assess Alisa Bokulich’s idea that explanatory model fictions can be genuinely explanatory. I draw attention to a tension in her account between the claim that model fictions are explanatorily autonomous, and the demand that model fictions be justified in order for them to be genuinely explanatory. I also explore the consequences that arise from Bokulich’s use of Woodward’s account of counterfactual explanation and her abandonment of Woodward’s notion of an intervention. As it stands, Bokulich’s account must (...)
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  • Idealization and Structural Explanation in Physics.Martin King - manuscript
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  • Models Don’T Decompose That Way: A Holistic View of Idealized Models.Collin Rice - 2019 - British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 70 (1):179-208.
    Many accounts of scientific modelling assume that models can be decomposed into the contributions made by their accurate and inaccurate parts. These accounts then argue that the inaccurate parts of the model can be justified by distorting only what is irrelevant. In this paper, I argue that this decompositional strategy requires three assumptions that are not typically met by our best scientific models. In response, I propose an alternative view in which idealized models are characterized as holistically distorted representations that (...)
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  • Point-Particle Explanations: The Case of Gravitational Waves.Andrew Wayne - 2017 - Synthese:1-21.
    This paper explores the role of physically impossible idealizations in model-based explanation. We do this by examining the explanation of gravitational waves from distant stellar objects using models that contain point-particle idealizations. Like infinite idealizations in thermodynamics, biology and economics, the point-particle idealization in general relativity is physically impossible. What makes this case interesting is that there are two very different kinds of models used for predicting the same gravitational wave phenomena, post-Newtonian models and effective field theory models. The paper (...)
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  • Functional Kinds: A Skeptical Look.Cameron Buckner - 2015 - Synthese 192 (12):3915-3942.
    The functionalist approach to kinds has suffered recently due to its association with law-based approaches to induction and explanation. Philosophers of science increasingly view nomological approaches as inappropriate for the special sciences like psychology and biology, which has led to a surge of interest in approaches to natural kinds that are more obviously compatible with mechanistic and model-based methods, especially homeostatic property cluster theory. But can the functionalist approach to kinds be weaned off its dependency on laws? Dan Weiskopf has (...)
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  • Non-Causal Understanding with Economic Models: The Case of General Equilibrium.Philippe Verreault-Julien - 2017 - Journal of Economic Methodology 24 (3):297-317.
    How can we use models to understand real phenomena if models misrepresent the very phenomena we seek to understand? Some accounts suggest that models may afford understanding by providing causal knowledge about phenomena via how-possibly explanations. However, general equilibrium models, for example, pose a challenge to this solution since their contribution appears to be purely mathematical results. Despite this, practitioners widely acknowledge that it improves our understanding of the world. I argue that the Arrow–Debreu model provides a mathematical how-possibly explanation (...)
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  • Manipulation is Key: On Why Non-Mechanistic Explanations in the Cognitive Sciences Also Describe Relations of Manipulation and Control.Lotem Elber-Dorozko - 2018 - Synthese 195 (12):5319-5337.
    A popular view presents explanations in the cognitive sciences as causal or mechanistic and argues that an important feature of such explanations is that they allow us to manipulate and control the explanandum phenomena. Nonetheless, whether there can be explanations in the cognitive sciences that are neither causal nor mechanistic is still under debate. Another prominent view suggests that both causal and non-causal relations of counterfactual dependence can be explanatory, but this view is open to the criticism that it is (...)
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  • Explanation in Science.A. Overton James - unknown
    Scientific explanation is an important goal of scientific practise. Philosophers have proposed a striking diversity of seemingly incompatible accounts of explanation, from deductive-nomological to statistical relevance, unification, pragmatic, causal-mechanical, mechanistic, causal intervention, asymptotic, and model-based accounts. In this dissertation I apply two novel methods to reexamine our evidence about scientific explanation in practise and thereby address the fragmentation of philosophical accounts. I start by collecting a data set of 781 articles from one year of the journal Science. Using automated text (...)
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  • Similarity, Adequacy, and Purpose: Understanding the Success of Scientific Models.Melissa Jacquart - 2016 - Dissertation, University of Western Ontario
    A central component to scientific practice is the construction and use of scientific models. Scientists believe that the success of a model justifies making claims that go beyond the model itself. However, philosophical analysis of models suggests that drawing inferences about the world from successful models is more complex. In this dissertation I develop a framework that can help disentangle the related strands of evaluation of model success, model extendibility, and the ability to draw ampliative inferences about the world from (...)
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  • It's a Matter of Principle: Scientific Explanation in Information‐Theoretic Reconstructions of Quantum Theory.Laura Felline - 2016 - Dialectica 70 (4):549-575.
    The aim of this paper is to explore the ways in which Axiomatic Reconstructions of Quantum Theory in terms of Information-Theoretic principles can contribute to explaining and understanding quantum phenomena, as well as to study their explanatory limitations. This is achieved in part by offering an account of the kind of explanation that axiomatic reconstructions of Quantum Theory provide, and re-evaluating the epistemic status of the program in light of this explanation. As illustrative case studies, I take Clifton's, Bub's and (...)
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  • The Explanation Paradox.Julian Reiss - 2012 - Journal of Economic Methodology 19 (1):43-62.
    This paper examines mathematical models in economics and observes that three mutually inconsistent hypotheses concerning models and explanation are widely held: (1) economic models are false; (2) economic models are nevertheless explanatory; and (3) only true accounts explain. Commentators have typically resolved the paradox by rejecting either one of these hypotheses. I will argue that none of the proposed resolutions work and conclude that therefore the paradox is genuine and likely to stay.
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  • It’s Not a Game: Accurate Representation with Toy Models.James Nguyen - forthcoming - British Journal for the Philosophy of Science:axz010.
    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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  • Mechanistic Information as Evidence in Decision-Oriented Science.José Luis Luján, Oliver Todt & Juan Bautista Bengoetxea - 2016 - Journal for General Philosophy of Science / Zeitschrift für Allgemeine Wissenschaftstheorie 47 (2):293-306.
    Mechanistic information is used in the field of risk assessment in order to clarify two controversial methodological issues, the selection of inference guides and the definition of standards of evidence. In this paper we present an analysis of the concept of mechanistic information in risk assessment by recurring to previous philosophical analyses of mechanistic explanation. Our conclusion is that the conceptual analysis of mechanistic explanation facilitates a better characterization of the concept of mechanistic information. However, it also shows that the (...)
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  • An Inferential Account of Model Explanation.Wei Fang - 2019 - Philosophia 47 (1):99-116.
    This essay develops an inferential account of model explanation, based on Mauricio Suárez’s inferential conception of scientific representation and Alisa Bokulich’s counterfactual account of model explanation. It is suggested that the fact that a scientific model can explain is essentially linked to how a modeler uses an established model to make various inferences about the target system on the basis of results derived from the model. The inference practice is understood as a two-step activity, with the first step involving making (...)
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