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The Ontic Account of Scientific Explanation

In Marie I. Kaiser, Oliver R. Scholz, Daniel Plenge & Andreas Hüttemann (eds.), Explanation in the Special Sciences: The Case of Biology and History. Springer Verlag. pp. 27-52 (2014)

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  1. Discovering Patterns: On the Norms of Mechanistic Inquiry.Lena Kästner & Philipp Haueis - 2021 - Erkenntnis 86 (6):1635-1660.
    What kinds of norms constrain mechanistic discovery and explanation? In the mechanistic literature, the norms for good explanations are directly derived from answers to the metaphysical question of what explanations are. Prominent mechanistic accounts thus emphasize either ontic Explanation in the special sciences: the case of biology and history, Springer, Dordrecht, pp 27–52, 2014) or epistemic norms. Still, mechanistic philosophers on both sides agree that there is no sharp distinction between the processes of discovery and explanation. Thus, it seems reasonable (...)
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  • Understanding and Equivalent Reformulations.Josh Hunt - 2021 - Philosophy of Science 88 (5):810-823.
    Reformulating a scientific theory often leads to a significantly different way of understanding the world. Nevertheless, accounts of both theoretical equivalence and scientific understanding have neglected this important aspect of scientific theorizing. This essay provides a positive account of how reformulation changes our understanding. My account simultaneously addresses a serious challenge facing existing accounts of scientific understanding. These accounts have failed to characterize understanding in a way that goes beyond the epistemology of scientific explanation. By focusing on cases in which (...)
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  • A Defence of Manipulationist Noncausal Explanation: The Case for Intervention Liberalism.Nicholas Emmerson - forthcoming - Erkenntnis.
    Recent years have seen growing interest in modifying interventionist accounts of causal explanation in order to characterise noncausal explanation. However, one surprising element of such accounts is that they have typically jettisoned the core feature of interventionism: interventions. Indeed, the prevailing opinion within the philosophy of science literature suggests that interventions exclusively demarcate causal relationships. This position is so prevalent that, until now, no one has even thought to name it. We call it “intervention puritanism” (I-puritanism, for short). In this (...)
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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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  • Grounding and the Explanatory Role of Generalizations.Stefan Roski - 2018 - Philosophical Studies 175 (8):1985-2003.
    According to Hempel’s influential theory of explanation, explaining why some a is G consists in showing that the truth that a is G follows from a law-like generalization to the effect that all Fs are G together with the initial condition that a is F. While Hempel’s overall account is now widely considered to be deeply flawed, the idea that some generalizations play the explanatory role that the account predicts is still often endorsed by contemporary philosophers of science. This idea, (...)
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  • Recent Work in The Philosophy of Biology.Christopher J. Austin - 2017 - Analysis 77 (2):anx032.
    The biological sciences have always proven a fertile ground for philosophical analysis, one from which has grown a rich tradition stemming from Aristotle and flowering with Darwin. And although contemporary philosophy is increasingly becoming conceptually entwined with the study of the empirical sciences with the data of the latter now being regularly utilised in the establishment and defence of the frameworks of the former, a practice especially prominent in the philosophy of physics, the development of that tradition hasn’t received the (...)
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  • The New Mechanical Philosophy.Stuart Glennan - 2017 - Oxford University Press.
    This volume argues for a new image of science that understands both natural and social phenomena to be the product of mechanisms, casting the work of science as an effort to understand those mechanisms. Glennan offers an account of the nature of mechanisms and of the models used to represent them in physical, life, and social sciences.
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  • Long-Term Potentiation: One Kind or Many?Jacqueline Sullivan - 2016 - In Eppur Si Muove: Doing History and Philosophy of Science with Peter Machamer, A Collection of Essays in Honor of Peter Machamer. Springer Verlag. pp. 127-140.
    Do neurobiologists aim to discover natural kinds? I address this question in this chapter via a critical analysis of classification practices operative across the 43-year history of research on long-term potentiation (LTP). I argue that this 43-year history supports the idea that the structure of scientific practice surrounding LTP research has remained an obstacle to the discovery of natural kinds.
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  • Omissions and Expectations: A New Approach to the Things We Failed to Do.Pascale Willemsen - 2018 - Synthese 195 (4):1587-1614.
    Imagine you and your friend Pierre agreed on meeting each other at a café, but he does not show up. What is the difference between a friend’s not showing up meeting? and any other person not coming? In some sense, all people who did not come show the same kind of behaviour, but most people would be willing to say that the absence of a friend who you expected to see is different in kind. In this paper, I will spell (...)
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  • The Topological Realization.Daniel Kostić - 2018 - Synthese (1).
    In this paper, I argue that the newly developed network approach in neuroscience and biology provides a basis for formulating a unique type of realization, which I call topological realization. Some of its features and its relation to one of the dominant paradigms of realization and explanation in sciences, i.e. the mechanistic one, are already being discussed in the literature. But the detailed features of topological realization, its explanatory power and its relation to another prominent view of realization, namely the (...)
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  • Abstract Versus Causal Explanations?Reutlinger Alexander & Andersen Holly - 2016 - International Studies in the Philosophy of Science 30 (2):129-146.
    In the recent literature on causal and non-causal scientific explanations, there is an intuitive assumption according to which an explanation is non-causal 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 (...)
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  • The Metaphysics of Constitutive Mechanistic Phenomena.Marie I. Kaiser & Beate Krickel - 2017 - British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 68 (3).
    The central aim of this article is to specify the ontological nature of constitutive mechanistic phenomena. After identifying three criteria of adequacy that any plausible approach to constitutive mechanistic phenomena must satisfy, we present four different suggestions, found in the mechanistic literature, of what mechanistic phenomena might be. We argue that none of these suggestions meets the criteria of adequacy. According to our analysis, constitutive mechanistic phenomena are best understood as what we will call ‘object-involving occurrents’. Furthermore, on the basis (...)
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  • Mechanisms, Models and Laws in Understanding Supernovae.Phyllis Illari - 2019 - Journal for General Philosophy of Science / Zeitschrift für Allgemeine Wissenschaftstheorie 50 (1):63-84.
    There has been a burst of work in the last couple of decades on mechanistic explanation, as an alternative to the traditional covering-law model of scientific explanation. That work makes some interesting claims about mechanistic explanations rendering phenomena ‘intelligible’, but does not develop this idea in great depth. There has also been a growth of interest in giving an account of scientific understanding, as a complement to an account of explanation, specifically addressing a three-place relationship between explanation, world, and the (...)
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  • Representation in Cognitive Science.Nicholas Shea - 2018 - Oxford University Press.
    How can we think about things in the outside world? There is still no widely accepted theory of how mental representations get their meaning. In light of pioneering research, Nicholas Shea develops a naturalistic account of the nature of mental representation with a firm focus on the subpersonal representations that pervade the cognitive sciences.
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  • Discovering Patterns: On the Norms of Mechanistic Inquiry.Lena Kästner & Philipp Haueis - forthcoming - Erkenntnis 3:1-26.
    What kinds of norms constrain mechanistic discovery and explanation? In the mechanistic literature, the norms for good explanations are directly derived from answers to the metaphysical question of what explanations are. Prominent mechanistic accounts thus emphasize either ontic or epistemic norms. Still, mechanistic philosophers on both sides agree that there is no sharp distinction between the processes of discovery and explanation. Thus, it seems reasonable to expect that ontic and epistemic accounts of explanation will be accompanied by ontic and epistemic (...)
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  • Epistemic Dependence & Understanding: Reformulating Through Symmetry.Joshua Robert Hunt - forthcoming - British Journal for the Philosophy of Science.
    Science frequently gives us multiple, compatible ways of solving the same problem or formulating the same theory. These compatible formulations change our understanding of the world, despite providing the same explanations. According to what I call "conceptualism," reformulations change our understanding by clarifying the epistemic structure of theories. I illustrate conceptualism by analyzing a typical example of symmetry-based reformulation in chemical physics. This case study poses a problem for "explanationism," the rival thesis that differences in understanding require ontic explanatory differences. (...)
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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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  • Explanatory Priority Monism.Isaac Wilhelm - 2021 - Philosophical Studies 178 (4):1339-1359.
    Explanations are backed by many different relations: causation, grounding, and arguably others too. But why are these different relations capable of backing explanations? In virtue of what are they explanatory? In this paper, I propose and defend a monistic account of explanation-backing relations. On my account, there is a single relation which backs all cases of explanation, and which explains why those other relations are explanation-backing.
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  • Psychology and Neuroscience: The Distinctness Question.Brice Bantegnie - forthcoming - Erkenntnis:1-20.
    In a recent paper, Gualtiero Piccinini and Carl Craver have argued that psychology is not distinct from neuroscience. Many have argued that Piccinini and Craver’s argument is unsuccessful. However, none of these authors have questioned the appropriateness of Piccinini and Craver’s argument for their key premise—that functional analyses are mechanism sketches. My first and main goal in this paper is to show that Piccinini and Craver offer normative considerations in support of what is a descriptive premise and to provide some (...)
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  • Beyond Black Dots and Nutritious Things: A Solution to the Indeterminacy Problem.Marc Artiga - 2021 - Mind and Language 36 (3):471-490.
    The indeterminacy problem is one of the most prominent objections against naturalistic theories of content. In this essay I present this difficulty and argue that extant accounts are unable to solve it. Then, I develop a particular version of teleosemantics, which I call ’explanation-based teleosemantics’, and show how this outstanding problem can be addressed within the framework of a powerful naturalistic theory.
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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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  • Merleau-Ponty’s Implicit Critique of the New Mechanists.Benjamin Sheredos - 2018 - Synthese (Suppl 9):1-25.
    I argue (1) that what (ontic) New Mechanistic philosophers of science call mechanisms would be material Gestalten, and (2) that Merleau-Ponty’s engagement with Gestalt theory can help us frame a standing challenge against ontic conceptions of mechanisms. In short, until the (ontic) New Mechanist can provide us with a plausible account of the organization of mechanisms as an objective feature of mind-independent ontic structures in the world which we might discover – and no ontic Mechanist has done so – it (...)
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  • Indeterminism in the Brain.Bryce Gessell - 2017 - Biology and Philosophy 32 (6):1205-1223.
    Does the brain behave indeterministically? I argue that accounting for ion channels, key functional units in the brain, requires indeterministic models. These models are probabilistic, so the brain does behave indeterministically in a weak sense. I explore the implications of this point for a stronger sense of indeterminism. Ultimately I argue that it is not possible, either empirically or through philosophical argument, to show that the brain is indeterministic in that stronger sense.
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  • An Interventionist Approach to Psychological Explanation.Michael Rescorla - 2018 - Synthese 195 (5):1909-1940.
    Interventionism is a theory of causal explanation developed by Woodward and Hitchcock. I defend an interventionist perspective on the causal explanations offered within scientific psychology. The basic idea is that psychology causally explains mental and behavioral outcomes by specifying how those outcomes would have been different had an intervention altered various factors, including relevant psychological states. I elaborate this viewpoint with examples drawn from cognitive science practice, especially Bayesian perceptual psychology. I favorably compare my interventionist approach with well-known nomological and (...)
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  • Making Sense of Interlevel Causation in Mechanisms From a Metaphysical Perspective.Beate Krickel - 2017 - Journal for General Philosophy of Science / Zeitschrift für Allgemeine Wissenschaftstheorie 48 (3):453-468.
    According to the new mechanistic approach, an acting entity is at a lower mechanistic level than another acting entity if and only if the former is a component in the mechanism for the latter. Craver and Bechtel :547–563, 2007. doi:10.1007/s10539-006-9028-8) argue that a consequence of this view is that there cannot be causal interactions between acting entities at different mechanistic levels. Their main reason seems to be what I will call the Metaphysical Argument: things at different levels of a mechanism (...)
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  • Mechanistic and Topological Explanations: An Introduction.Daniel Kostić - 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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  • Information and Explanation: An Inconsistent Triad and Solution.Mark Povich - 2021 - European Journal for Philosophy of Science 11 (2):1-17.
    An important strand in philosophy of science takes scientific explanation to consist in the conveyance of some kind of information. Here I argue that this idea is also implicit in some core arguments of mechanists, some of whom are proponents of an ontic conception of explanation that might be thought inconsistent with it. However, informational accounts seem to conflict with some lay and scientific commonsense judgments and a central goal of the theory of explanation, because information is relative to the (...)
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  • Prediction and Topological Models in Neuroscience.Bryce Gessell, Matthew Stanley, Benjamin Geib & Felipe De Brigard - forthcoming - In Fabrizio Calzavarini & Marco Viola (eds.), Neural Mechanisms: New challenges in the philosophy of neuroscience. Springer.
    In the last two decades, philosophy of neuroscience has predominantly focused on explanation. Indeed, it has been argued that mechanistic models are the standards of explanatory success in neuroscience over, among other things, topological models. However, explanatory power is only one virtue of a scientific model. Another is its predictive power. Unfortunately, the notion of prediction has received comparatively little attention in the philosophy of neuroscience, in part because predictions seem disconnected from interventions. In contrast, we argue that topological predictions (...)
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  • The Meta-Explanatory Question.L. R. Franklin-Hall - manuscript
    Philosophical theories of explanation characterize the difference between correct and incorrect explanations. While remaining neutral as to which of these ‘first-order’ theories is right, this paper asks the ‘meta-explanatory’ question: is the difference between correct and incorrect explanation real, i.e., objective or mind-independent? After offering a framework for distinguishing realist from anti-realist views, I sketch three distinct paths to explanatory anti-realism.
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  • The Ontology of Organismic Agency: A Kantian Approach.Hugh Desmond & Philippe Huneman - 2020 - In Andrea Altobrando & Pierfrancesco Biasetti (eds.), Natural Born Monads: On the Metaphysics of Organisms and Human Individuals. De Gruyter. pp. 33-64.
    Biologists explain organisms’ behavior not only as having been programmed by genes and shaped by natural selection, but also as the result of an organism’s agency: the capacity to react to environmental changes in goal-driven ways. The use of such ‘agential explanations’ reopens old questions about how justified it is to ascribe agency to entities like bacteria or plants that obviously lack rationality and even a nervous system. Is organismic agency genuinely ‘real’ or is it just a useful fiction? In (...)
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  • The Narrow Ontic Counterfactual Account of Distinctively Mathematical Explanation.Mark Povich - 2019 - British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 72 (2):511-543.
    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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  • Shades of Grey: Granularity, Pragmatics, and Non-Causal Explanation.Hugh Desmond - 2019 - Perspectives on Science 27 (1):68-87.
    Implicit contextual factors mean that the boundary between causal and noncausal explanation is not as neat as one might hope: as the phenomenon to be explained is given descriptions with varying degrees of granularity, the nature of the favored explanation alternates between causal and non-causal. While it is not surprising that different descriptions of the same phenomenon should favor different explanations, it is puzzling why re-describing the phenomenon should make any difference for the causal nature of the favored explanation. I (...)
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  • Radical Embodied Cognitive Science and Problems of Intentionality.Eric Gordon Epstein - 2019 - Synthese 198 (Suppl 1):229-266.
    Radical embodied cognitive science tries to understand as much cognition as it can without positing contentful mental entities. Thus, in one prominent formulation, REC claims that content is involved neither in visual perception nor in any more elementary form of cognition. Arguments for REC tend to rely heavily on considerations of ontological parsimony, with authors frequently pointing to the difficulty of explaining content in naturalistically acceptable terms. However, many classic concerns about the difficulty of naturalizing content likewise threaten the credentials (...)
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  • Mathematics and the World: Explanation and Representation.John-Hamish Heron - 2017 - Dissertation, King’s College London
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  • Psychoneural Isomorphism: From Metaphysics to Robustness.Alfredo Vernazzani - 2020 - In Marco Viola & Fabrizio Calzavarini (eds.), Neural Mechanisms: New Challenges in the Philosophy of Neuroscience. Springer.
    At the beginning of the 20th century, Gestalt psychologists put forward the concept of psychoneural isomorphism, which was meant to replace Fechner’s obscure notion of psychophysical parallelism and provide a heuristics that may facilitate the search for the neural correlates of the mind. However, the concept has generated much confusion in the debate, and today its role is still unclear. In this contribution, I will attempt a little conceptual spadework in clarifying the concept of psychoneural isomorphism, focusing exclusively on conscious (...)
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  • Are More Details Better? On the Norms of Completeness for Mechanistic Explanations.Carl F. Craver & David M. Kaplan - 2020 - British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 71 (1):287-319.
    Completeness is an important but misunderstood norm of explanation. It has recently been argued that mechanistic accounts of scientific explanation are committed to the thesis that models are complete only if they describe everything about a mechanism and, as a corollary, that incomplete models are always improved by adding more details. If so, mechanistic accounts are at odds with the obvious and important role of abstraction in scientific modelling. We respond to this characterization of the mechanist’s views about abstraction and (...)
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  • A Regularist Approach to Mechanistic Type-Level Explanation.Beate Krickel - 2017 - British Journal for the Philosophy of Science (4):00-00.
    Most defenders of the new mechanistic approach accept ontic constraints for successful scientific explanation (Illari 2013; Craver 2014). The minimal claim is that scientific explanations have objective truthmakers, namely mechanisms that exist in the physical world independently of any observer and that cause or constitute the phenomena-to- be-explained. How can this idea be applied to type-level explanations? Many authors at least implicitly assume that in order for mechanisms to be the truthmakers of type-level explanation they need to be regular (Andersen (...)
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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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  • Reconciling New Mechanism and Psychological Explanation: A Pragmatic Approach.Michael De Vivo - unknown
    Recently, Gualtiero Piccinini and Carl Craver have argued that functional analyses in psychology lack explanatory autonomy from explanations in neuroscience. In this thesis I argue against this claim by motivating and defending a pragmatic-epistemic conception of autonomous psychological explanation. I argue that this conception of autonomy need not require that functional analyses be distinct in kind from neural-mechanistic explanations. I use the framework of Bas van Fraassen’s Pragmatic Theory of Explanation to show that explanations in psychology and neuroscience can be (...)
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  • (New) Realist Social Cognition.Nicolás Araneda Hinrichs - 2020 - Frontiers in Human Neuroscience 14.
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  • Mechanistic Levels, Reduction, and Emergence.Mark Povich & Carl F. Craver - 2017 - In Stuart Glennan & Phyllis McKay Illari (eds.), The Routledge Handbook of Mechanisms and Mechanical Philosophy. Routledge. pp. 185-97.
    We sketch the mechanistic approach to levels, contrast it with other senses of “level,” and explore some of its metaphysical implications. This perspective allows us to articulate what it means for things to be at different levels, to distinguish mechanistic levels from realization relations, and to describe the structure of multilevel explanations, the evidence by which they are evaluated, and the scientific unity that results from them. This approach is not intended to solve all metaphysical problems surrounding physicalism. Yet it (...)
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  • The New Mechanical Philosophy: By Stuart Glennan, Oxford, Oxford University Press, 2017, Xii + 266 Pp., ISBN 9780198779711, £30.00, US$40.95.Lena Kästner - 2019 - International Studies in the Philosophy of Science 32 (1):69-72.
    Volume 32, Issue 1, March 2019, Page 69-72.
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  • Breaking the Self.Wanja Wiese - 2020 - Philosophy and the Mind Sciences 1 (I):1-27.
    Are there logically possible types of conscious experience that are nomologically impossible, given independently justified assumptions about the neural underpinnings of consciousness in human beings? In one sense, this is trivial: just consider the fact that the types of perceptual experiences we can have are limited by our sensory organs. But there may be non-trivial types of conscious experience that are impossible. For instance, if there is a basic type of self-consciousness, corresponding to a phenomenal property that is nomologically necessary (...)
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  • Is Episodic Memory a Natural Kind?Nikola Andonovski - 2018 - Essays in Philosophy 19 (2):178-195.
    In a recent paper, Cheng and Werning (2016) argue that the class of episodic memories constitutes a natural kind. Endorsing the homeostatic property cluster view of natural kinds, they suggest that episodic memories can be characterized by a cluster of properties unified by an underlying neural mechanism for coding sequences of events. Here, I argue that Cheng & Werning’s proposal faces some significant, and potentially insurmountable, difficulties. Two are described as most prominent. First, the proposal fails to satisfy an important (...)
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  • Deflating Deflationary Truthmaking.Jamin Asay & Sam Baron - 2020 - Philosophical Quarterly 70 (278):1-21.
    In this paper we confront a challenge to truthmaker theory that is analogous to the objections raised by deflationists against substantive theories of truth. Several critics of truthmaker theory espouse a ‘deflationary’ attitude about truthmaking, though it has not been clearly presented as such. Our goal is to articulate and then object to the underlying rationale behind deflationary truthmaking. We begin by developing the analogy between deflationary truth and deflationary truthmaking, and then show how the latter can be found in (...)
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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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  • Potential Controversies: Causation and the Hodgkin and Huxley Equations.David Pence - 2017 - Philosophy of Science 84 (5):1177-1188.
    The import of Hodgkin and Huxley’s classic model of the action potential has been hotly debated in recent years, with particular controversy surrounding claims by prominent proponents of mechanistic explanation. For these authors, the Hodgkin-Huxley model is an excellent predictive tool but ultimately lacks causal/explanatory import. What is more, they claim that this is how Hodgkin and Huxley themselves saw the model. I argue that these claims rest on a problematic reading of the work. Hodgkin and Huxley’s model is both (...)
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  • The Directionality of Distinctively Mathematical Explanations.Carl F. Craver & Mark Povich - 2017 - Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part A 63:31-38.
    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 (...)
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  • Mathematical Explanation: A Contextual Approach.Sven Delarivière, Joachim Frans & Bart Van Kerkhove - 2017 - Journal of Indian Council of Philosophical Research 34 (2):309-329.
    PurposeIn this article, we aim to present and defend a contextual approach to mathematical explanation.MethodTo do this, we introduce an epistemic reading of mathematical explanation.ResultsThe epistemic reading not only clarifies the link between mathematical explanation and mathematical understanding, but also allows us to explicate some contextual factors governing explanation. We then show how several accounts of mathematical explanation can be read in this approach.ConclusionThe contextual approach defended here clears up the notion of explanation and pushes us towards a pluralist vision (...)
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  • Fiction As a Vehicle for Truth: Moving Beyond the Ontic Conception.Alisa Bokulich - 2016 - The Monist 99 (3):260-279.
    Despite widespread evidence that fictional models play an explanatory role in science, resistance remains to the idea that fictions can explain. A central source of this resistance is a particular view about what explanations are, namely, the ontic conception of explanation. According to the ontic conception, explanations just are the concrete entities in the world. I argue this conception is ultimately incoherent and that even a weaker version of the ontic conception fails. Fictional models can succeed in offering genuine explanations (...)
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