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  1. Universality Caused: The Case of Renormalization Group Explanation.Emily Sullivan - 2019 - European Journal for Philosophy of Science 9 (3):36.
    Recently, many have argued that there are certain kinds of abstract mathematical explanations that are noncausal. In particular, the irrelevancy approach suggests that abstracting away irrelevant causal details can leave us with a noncausal explanation. In this paper, I argue that the common example of Renormalization Group explanations of universality used to motivate the irrelevancy approach deserves more critical attention. I argue that the reasons given by those who hold up RG as noncausal do not stand up to critical scrutiny. (...)
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  • Biological accuracy in large-scale brain simulations.Edoardo Datteri - 2020 - History and Philosophy of the Life Sciences 42 (1):1-22.
    The advancement of computing technology makes it possible to build extremely accurate digital reconstructions of brain circuits. Are such unprecedented levels of biological accuracy essential for brain simulations to play the roles they are expected to play in neuroscientific research? The main goal of this paper is to clarify this question by distinguishing between various roles played by large-scale simulations in contemporary neuroscience, and by reflecting about what makes a simulation biologically accurate. It is argued that large-scale simulations may play (...)
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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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  • Equilibrium Explanation as Structural Non-Mechanistic Explanation: The Case Long-Term Bacterial Persistence in Human Hosts.Javier Suárez & Roger Deulofeu - 2019 - Teorema: International Journal of Philosophy 3 (38):95-120.
    Philippe Huneman has recently questioned the widespread application of mechanistic models of scientific explanation based on the existence of structural explanations, i.e. explanations that account for the phenomenon to be explained in virtue of the mathematical properties of the system where the phenomenon obtains, rather than in terms of the mechanisms that causally produce the phenomenon. Structural explanations are very diverse, including cases like explanations in terms of bowtie structures, in terms of the topological properties of the system, or in (...)
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  • The Problem of Granularity for Scientific Explanation.David Kinney - 2019 - Dissertation, London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE)
    This dissertation aims to determine the optimal level of granularity for the variables used in probabilistic causal models. These causal models are useful for generating explanations in a number of scientific contexts. In Chapter 1, I argue that there is rarely a unique level of granularity at which a given phenomenon can be causally explained, thereby rejecting various causal exclusion arguments. In Chapter 2, I consider several recent proposals for measuring the explanatory power of causal explanations, and show that these (...)
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  • The Diverse Aims of Science.Angela Potochnik - 2015 - Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part A 53:71-80.
    There is increasing attention to the centrality of idealization in science. One common view is that models and other idealized representations are important to science, but that they fall short in one or more ways. On this view, there must be an intermediary step between idealized representation and the traditional aims of science, including truth, explanation, and prediction. Here I develop an alternative interpretation of the relationship between idealized representation and the aims of science. In my view, continuing, widespread idealization (...)
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  • How Typical! An Epistemological Analysis of Typicality in Statistical Mechanics.Massimiliano Badino - manuscript
    The recent use of typicality in statistical mechanics for foundational purposes has stirred an important debate involving both philosophers and physicists. While this debate customarily focuses on technical issues, in this paper I try to approach the problem from an epistemological angle. The discussion is driven by two questions: (1) What does typicality add to the concept of measure? (2) What kind of explanation, if any, does typicality yield? By distinguishing the notions of `typicality-as-vast-majority' and `typicality-as-best-exemplar', I argue that the (...)
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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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  • 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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  • Explaining the Behaviour of Random Ecological Networks: The Stability of the Microbiome as a Case of Integrative Pluralism.Roger Deulofeu, Javier Suárez & Alberto Pérez-Cervera - forthcoming - Synthese:1-23.
    Explaining the behaviour of ecosystems is one of the key challenges for the biological sciences. Since 2000, new-mechanicism has been the main model to account for the nature of scientific explanation in biology. The universality of the new-mechanist view in biology has been however put into question due to the existence of explanations that account for some biological phenomena in terms of their mathematical properties (mathematical explanations). Supporters of mathematical explanation have argued that the explanation of the behaviour of ecosystems (...)
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  • Stability, Breadth and Guidance.Thomas Blanchard, Nadya Vasilyeva & Tania Lombrozo - 2018 - Philosophical Studies 175 (9):2263-2283.
    Much recent work on explanation in the interventionist tradition emphasizes the explanatory value of stable causal generalizations—i.e., causal generalizations that remain true in a wide range of background circumstances. We argue that two separate explanatory virtues are lumped together under the heading of `stability’. We call these two virtues breadth and guidance respectively. In our view, these two virtues are importantly distinct, but this fact is neglected or at least under-appreciated in the literature on stability. We argue that an adequate (...)
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  • Interdisciplinary Thinking About Mechanisms and Causes.Armin W. Schulz - 2015 - Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part C: Studies in History and Philosophy of Biological and Biomedical Sciences 50:94-97.
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