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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 science: The case of biology and history. Dordrecht: Springer. pp. 27-52 (2014)

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  1. A Conventionalist Account of Distinctively Mathematical Explanation.Mark Povich - 2023 - Philosophical Problems in Science 74:171–223.
    Distinctively mathematical explanations (DMEs) explain natural phenomena primarily by appeal to mathematical facts. One important question is whether there can be an ontic account of DME. An ontic account of DME would treat the explananda and explanantia of DMEs as ontic structures and the explanatory relation between them as an ontic relation (e.g., Pincock 2015, Povich 2021). Here I present a conventionalist account of DME, defend it against objections, and argue that it should be considered ontic. Notably, if indeed it (...)
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  • Naturalism Meets the Personal Level: How Mixed Modelling Flattens the Mind.Robert D. Rupert - manuscript
    In this essay, it is argued that naturalism of an even moderate sort speaks strongly against a certain widely held thesis about the human mental (and cognitive) architecture: that it is divided into two distinct levels, the personal and the subpersonal, about the former of which we gain knowledge in a manner that effectively insulates such knowledge from the results of scientific research. -/- An empirically motivated alternative is proposed, according to which the architecture is, so to speak, flattened from (...)
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  • Phenomenological Laws and Mechanistic Explanations.Gabriel Siegel & Carl F. Craver - 2024 - Philosophy of Science 91 (1):132-150.
    In light of recent criticisms by Woodward (2017) and Rescorla (2018), we examine the relationship between mechanistic explanation and phenomenological laws. We disambiguate several uses of the phrase “phenomenological law” and show how a mechanistic theory of explanation sorts them into those that are and are not explanatory. We also distinguish the problem of phenomenological laws from arguments about the explanatory power of purely phenomenal models, showing that Woodward and Rescorla conflate these problems. Finally, we argue that the temptation to (...)
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  • How Values Shape the Machine Learning Opacity Problem.Emily Sullivan - 2022 - In Insa Lawler, Kareem Khalifa & Elay Shech (eds.), Scientific Understanding and Representation: Modeling in the Physical Sciences. New York, NY: Routledge. pp. 306-322.
    One of the main worries with machine learning model opacity is that we cannot know enough about how the model works to fully understand the decisions they make. But how much is model opacity really a problem? This chapter argues that the problem of machine learning model opacity is entangled with non-epistemic values. The chapter considers three different stages of the machine learning modeling process that corresponds to understanding phenomena: (i) model acceptance and linking the model to the phenomenon, (ii) (...)
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  • Expressivism about explanatory relevance.Josh Hunt - 2022 - Philosophical Studies:1-27.
    Accounts of scientific explanation disagree about what’s required for a cause, law, or other fact to be a reason why an event occurs. In short, they disagree about the conditions for explanatory relevance. Nonetheless, most accounts presuppose that claims about explanatory relevance play a descriptive role in tracking reality. By rejecting the need for this descriptivist assumption, I develop an expressivist account of explanatory relevance and explanation: to judge that an answer is explanatory is to express an attitude ofbeing for (...)
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  • Symmetry and Reformulation: On Intellectual Progress in Science and Mathematics.Josh Hunt - 2022 - Dissertation, University of Michigan
    Science and mathematics continually change in their tools, methods, and concepts. Many of these changes are not just modifications but progress---steps to be admired. But what constitutes progress? This dissertation addresses one central source of intellectual advancement in both disciplines: reformulating a problem-solving plan into a new, logically compatible one. For short, I call these cases of compatible problem-solving plans "reformulations." Two aspects of reformulations are puzzling. First, reformulating is often unnecessary. Given that we could already solve a problem using (...)
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  • Open-Ended Control vs. Closed-Ended Control: Limits of Mechanistic Explanation.Jason Winning - manuscript
    Some recent discussions of mechanistic explanation have focused on control operations. But control is often associated with teleological or normative-sounding concepts like goals and set-points, prompting the question: Does an explanation that refers to parts or mechanisms “controlling” each other thereby fail to be mechanistic? In this paper I introduce and explain a distinction between what I call open-ended and closed-ended control operations. I then argue that explanations that enlist control operations to do explanatory work can count as mechanistic only (...)
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  • A Defence of Manipulationist Noncausal Explanation: The Case for Intervention Liberalism.Nicholas Emmerson - 2023 - Erkenntnis 88 (8):3179-3201.
    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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  • 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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  • The Compact Compendium of Experimental Philosophy.Alexander Max Bauer & Stephan Kornmesser (eds.) - 2023 - Berlin and Boston: De Gruyter.
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  • The Narrow Ontic Counterfactual Account of Distinctively Mathematical Explanation.Mark Povich - 2021 - 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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  • Mechanistic Explanation in Psychology.Mark Povich - forthcoming - In Hank Stam & Huib Looren De Jong (eds.), The SAGE Handbook of Theoretical Psychology. (Eds.) Hank Stam and Huib Looren de Jong. Sage.
    Philosophers of psychology debate, among other things, which psychological models, if any, are (or provide) mechanistic explanations. This should seem a little strange given that there is rough consensus on the following two claims: 1) a mechanism is an organized collection of entities and activities that produces, underlies, or maintains a phenomenon, and 2) a mechanistic explanation describes, represents, or provides information about the mechanism producing, underlying, or maintaining the phenomenon to be explained (i.e. the explanandum phenomenon) (Bechtel and Abrahamsen (...)
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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 (REC) 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 (...)
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  • Epistemic Dependence and Understanding: Reformulating through Symmetry.Josh Hunt - 2023 - British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 74 (4):941-974.
    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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  • 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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  • (New) Realist Social Cognition.Nicolás Araneda Hinrichs - 2020 - Frontiers in Human Neuroscience 14.
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  • Explanatory priority monism.Isaac Wilhelm - 2020 - 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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  • 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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  • Psychology and Neuroscience: The Distinctness Question.Brice Bantegnie - 2022 - Erkenntnis 87 (4):1753-1772.
    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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  • 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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  • 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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  • 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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  • 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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  • 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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  • 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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  • 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, United Kingdom: 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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  • 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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  • 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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  • 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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  • Long-Term Potentiation: One Kind or Many?Jacqueline Sullivan - 2017 - In Marcus P. Adams, Zvi Biener, Uljana Feest & Jacqueline Anne Sullivan (eds.), Eppur Si Muove: Doing History and Philosophy of Science with Peter Machamer: A Collection of Essays in Honor of Peter Machamer. Dordrecht: Springer. 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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  • 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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  • 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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  • 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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  • A Regularist Approach to Mechanistic Type-Level Explanation.Beate Krickel - 2018 - British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 69 (4):1123-1153.
    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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  • 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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  • Re-reconciling the Epistemic and Ontic Views of Explanation.Benjamin Sheredos - 2016 - Erkenntnis 81 (5):919-949.
    Recent attempts to reconcile the ontic and epistemic approaches to explanation propose that our best explanations simply fulfill epistemic and ontic norms simultaneously. I aim to upset this armistice. Epistemic norms of attaining general and systematic explanations are, I argue, autonomous of ontic norms: they cannot be fulfilled simultaneously or in simple conjunction with ontic norms, and plausibly have priority over them. One result is that central arguments put forth by ontic theorists against epistemic theorists are revealed as not only (...)
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  • The Ontic-Epistemic Debates of Explanation Revisited: The Three-Dimensional Approach.Jinyeong Gim - 2024 - Philosophical Problems in Science (Zagadnienia Filozoficzne W Nauce) 74:99-169.
    After Wesley Salmon’s causal-mechanical stance on explanation in the 1980s, the ontic-epistemic debate of scientific explanations appeared to be resolved in the philosophy of science. However, since the twenty-first century, this debate has been rekindled among philosophers who focus on mechanistic explanations. Nevertheless, its issues have evolved, necessitating scrutiny of the new trends in this debate and a comparison with the original controversy between Carl Hempel and Salmon. The primary objective of this paper is to elucidate three categorical dimensions in (...)
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  • How and when are topological explanations complete mechanistic explanations? The case of multilayer network models.Beate Krickel, Leon de Bruin & Linda Douw - 2023 - Synthese 202 (1):1-21.
    The relationship between topological explanation and mechanistic explanation is unclear. Most philosophers agree that at least some topological explanations are mechanistic explanations. The crucial question is how to make sense of this claim. Zednik (Philos Psychol 32(1):23–51, 2019) argues that topological explanations are mechanistic if they (i) describe mechanism sketches that (ii) pick out organizational properties of mechanisms. While we agree with Zednik’s conclusion, we critically discuss Zednik’s account and show that it fails as a general account of how and (...)
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  • A Scheme Foiled: A Critique of Baron's Account of Extra-mathematical Explanation.Mark Povich - 2023 - Mind 132 (526):479–492.
    Extra-mathematical explanations explain natural phenomena primarily by appeal to mathematical facts. Philosophers disagree about whether there are extra-mathematical explanations, the correct account of them if they exist, and their implications (e.g., for the philosophy of scientific explanation and for the metaphysics of mathematics) (Baker 2005, 2009; Bangu 2008; Colyvan 1998; Craver and Povich 2017; Lange 2013, 2016, 2018; Mancosu 2008; Povich 2019, 2020; Steiner 1978). In this discussion note, I present three desiderata for any account of extra-mathematical explanation and argue (...)
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  • Integrating Philosophy of Understanding with the Cognitive Sciences.Kareem Khalifa, Farhan Islam, J. P. Gamboa, Daniel Wilkenfeld & Daniel Kostić - 2022 - Frontiers in Systems Neuroscience 16.
    We provide two programmatic frameworks for integrating philosophical research on understanding with complementary work in computer science, psychology, and neuroscience. First, philosophical theories of understanding have consequences about how agents should reason if they are to understand that can then be evaluated empirically by their concordance with findings in scientific studies of reasoning. Second, these studies use a multitude of explanations, and a philosophical theory of understanding is well suited to integrating these explanations in illuminating ways.
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  • Six Theses on Mechanisms and Mechanistic Science.Stuart Glennan, Phyllis Illari & Erik Weber - 2022 - Journal for General Philosophy of Science / Zeitschrift für Allgemeine Wissenschaftstheorie 53 (2):143-161.
    In this paper we identify six theses that constitute core results of philosophical investigation into the nature of mechanisms, and of the role that the search for and identification of mechanisms play in the sciences. These theses represent the fruits of the body of research that is now often called New Mechanism. We concisely present the main arguments for these theses. In the literature, these arguments are scattered and often implicit. Our analysis can guide future research in many ways: it (...)
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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 - 2020 - 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 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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  • Deflating Deflationary Truthmaking.Jamin Asay & Sam Baron - 2019 - 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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  • The New Mechanical Philosophy.Stuart Glennan - 2017 - Oxford: 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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  • 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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