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  1. Some Concerns Regarding Explanatory Pluralism: The Explanatory Role of Optimality Models.Gabriel Târziu - 2019 - Filozofia Nauki 28 (4):95-113.
    Optimality models are widely used in different parts of biology. Two important questions that have been asked about such models are: are they explanatory and, if so, what type of explanations do they offer? My concern in this paper is with the approach of Rice (2012, 2015) and Irvine (2015), who claim that these models provide non-causal explanations. I argue that there are serious problems with this approach and with the accounts of explanation it is intended to justify. The idea (...)
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  • Rethinking Unification : Unification as an Explanatory Value in Scientific Practice.Merel Lefevere - 2018 - Dissertation, University of Ghent
    This dissertation starts with a concise overview of what philosophers of science have written about unification and its role in scientific explanation during the last 50 years to provide the reader with some background knowledge. In order to bring unification back into the picture, I have followed two strategies, resulting respectively in Parts I and II of this dissertation. In Part I the idea of unification is used to refine and enrich the dominant causalmechanist and causal-interventionist accounts of scientific explanation. (...)
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  • Scientific Understanding and Felicitous Legitimate Falsehoods.Insa Lawler - forthcoming - Synthese:1-29.
    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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  • Model Explanation Versus Model-Induced Explanation.Insa Lawler & Emily Sullivan - forthcoming - Foundations of Science:1-26.
    Scientists appeal to models when explaining phenomena. Such explanations are often dubbed model explanations or model-based explanations. But what are the precise conditions for ME? Are ME special explanations? In our paper, we first rebut two definitions of ME and specify a more promising one. Based on this analysis, we single out a related conception that is concerned with explanations that are induced from working with a model. We call them ‘model-induced explanations’. Second, we study three paradigmatic cases of alleged (...)
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  • Optimality Explanations: A Plea for an Alternative Approach.Collin C. Rice - 2012 - Biology and Philosophy 27 (5):685-703.
    Recently philosophers of science have begun to pay more attention to the use of highly idealized mathematical models in scientific theorizing. An important example of this kind of highly idealized modeling is the widespread use of optimality models within evolutionary biology. One way to understand the explanations provided by these models is as a censored causal explanation: an explanation that omits certain causal factors in order to focus on a modular subset of the causal processes that led to the explanandum. (...)
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  • Biological Explanation.Angela Potochnik - 2013 - In Kostas Kampourakis (ed.), The Philosophy of Biology: A Companion for Educators. Springer. pp. 49-65.
    One of the central aims of science is explanation: scientists seek to uncover why things happen the way they do. This chapter addresses what kinds of explanations are formulated in biology, how explanatory aims influence other features of the field of biology, and the implications of all of this for biology education. Philosophical treatments of scientific explanation have been both complicated and enriched by attention to explanatory strategies in biology. Most basically, whereas traditional philosophy of science based explanation on derivation (...)
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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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  • Frameworks for Historians & Philosophers.Adrian Currie & Kirsten Walsh - 2018 - Hopos: The Journal of the International Society for the History of Philosophy of Science 9:1-34.
    The past can be a stubborn subject: it is complex, heterogeneous and opaque. To understand it, one must decide which aspects of the past to emphasise and which to minimise. Enter frameworks. Frameworks foreground certain aspects of the historical record while backgrounding others. As such, they are both necessary for, and conducive to, good history as well as good philosophy. We examine the role of frameworks in the history and philosophy of science and argue that they are necessary for both (...)
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  • Big Dragons on Small Islands: Generality and Particularity in Science: Review of Angela Potochnik’s Idealization and the Aims of Science.Adrian Currie - 2018 - Biology and Philosophy 33 (3-4):20.
    Angela Potochnik’s Idealization and the Aims of Science defends an ambitious and systematic account of scientific knowledge: ultimately science pursues human understanding rather than truth. Potochnik argues that idealization is rampant and unchecked in science. Further, given that idealizations involve departures from truth, this suggests science is not primarily about truth. I explore the relationship between truths about causal patterns and scientific understanding in light of this, and suggest that Potochnik underestimates the importance and power of highly particular narrative explanations.
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  • Modeling Social and Evolutionary Games.Angela Potochnik - 2012 - Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part C: Studies in History and Philosophy of Biological and Biomedical Sciences 43 (1):202-208.
    When game theory was introduced to biology, the components of classic game theory models were replaced with elements more befitting evolutionary phenomena. The actions of intelligent agents are replaced by phenotypic traits; utility is replaced by fitness; rational deliberation is replaced by natural selection. In this paper, I argue that this classic conception of comprehensive reapplication is misleading, for it overemphasizes the discontinuity between human behavior and evolved traits. Explicitly considering the representational roles of evolutionary game theory brings to attention (...)
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  • A Neurathian Conception of the Unity of Science.Angela Potochnik - 2011 - Erkenntnis 74 (3):305-319.
    An historically important conception of the unity of science is explanatory reductionism, according to which the unity of science is achieved by explaining all laws of science in terms of their connection to microphysical law. There is, however, a separate tradition that advocates the unity of science. According to that tradition, the unity of science consists of the coordination of diverse fields of science, none of which is taken to have privileged epistemic status. This alternate conception has roots in Otto (...)
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  • Categorizing the Mental.Eric Hochstein - 2016 - Philosophical Quarterly 66 (265):745-759.
    A common view in the philosophy of mind and philosophy of psychology is that there is an ideally correct way of categorizing the structures and operations of the mind, and that the goal of neuroscience and psychology is to find this correct categorizational scheme. Categories which cannot find a place within this correct framework ought to be eliminated from scientific practice. In this paper, I argue that this general idea runs counter to productive scientific practices. Such a view ignores the (...)
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  • The Limitations of Hierarchical Organization.Angela Potochnik & Brian McGill - 2012 - Philosophy of Science 79 (1):120-140.
    The concept of hierarchical organization is commonplace in science. Subatomic particles compose atoms, which compose molecules; cells compose tissues, which compose organs, which compose organisms; etc. Hierarchical organization is particularly prominent in ecology, a field of research explicitly arranged around levels of ecological organization. The concept of levels of organization is also central to a variety of debates in philosophy of science. Yet many difficulties plague the concept of discrete hierarchical levels. In this paper, we show how these difficulties undermine (...)
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  • Explanations: Aesthetic and Scientific.Shen-yi Liao - 2014 - Royal Institute of Philosophy Supplement 75:127-149.
    Methodologically, philosophical aesthetics is undergoing an evolution that takes it closer to the sciences. Taking this methodological convergence as the starting point, I argue for a pragmatist and pluralist view of aesthetic explanations. To bring concreteness to discussion, I focus on vindicating genre explanations, which are explanations of aesthetic phenomena that centrally cite a work's genre classification. I show that theoretical resources that philosophers of science have developed with attention to actual scientific practice and the special sciences can be used (...)
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  • When Does ‘Folk Psychology’ Count as Folk Psychological?Eric Hochstein - 2017 - British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 68 (4):1125-1147.
    It has commonly been argued that certain types of mental descriptions, specifically those characterized in terms of propositional attitudes, are part of a folk psychological understanding of the mind. Recently, however, it has also been argued that this is the case even when such descriptions are employed as part of scientific theories in domains like social psychology and comparative psychology. In this paper, I argue that there is no plausible way to understand the distinction between folk and scientific psychology that (...)
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  • Mass Extinctions as Major Transitions.Adrian Currie - 2019 - Biology and Philosophy 34 (2):29.
    Both paleobiology and investigations of ‘major evolutionary transitions’ are intimately concerned with the macroevolutionary shape of life. It is surprising, then, how little studies of major transitions are informed by paleontological perspectives and. I argue that this disconnect is partially justified because paleobiological investigation is typically ‘phenomena-led’, while investigations of major transitions are ‘theory-led’. The distinction turns on evidential relevance: in the former case, evidence is relevant in virtue of its relationship to some phenomena or hypotheses concerning those phenomena; in (...)
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  • Feminist Implications of Model-Based Science.Angela Potochnik - 2012 - Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part A 43 (2):383-389.
    Recent philosophy of science has witnessed a shift in focus, in that significantly more consideration is given to how scientists employ models. Attending to the role of models in scientific practice leads to new questions about the representational roles of models, the purpose of idealizations, why multiple models are used for the same phenomenon, and many more besides. In this paper, I suggest that these themes resonate with central topics in feminist epistemology, in particular prominent versions of feminist empiricism, and (...)
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  • Special-Science Autonomy and the Division of Labor.Michael Strevens - forthcoming - In Mark Couch & Jessica Pfeifer (eds.), The Philosophy of Philip Kitcher.
    Philip Kitcher has advocated and advanced an influential antireductionist picture of science on which the higher-level sciences pursue their aims largely independently of the lower-level sciences -- a view of the sciences as autonomous. Explanatory autonomy as Kitcher understands it is incompatible with explanatory reductionism, the view that a high-level explanation is inevitably improved by providing a lower-level explanation of its parts. This paper explores an alternative conception of autonomy based on another major theme of Kitcher's philosophy of science: the (...)
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  • Why One Model is Never Enough: A Defense of Explanatory Holism.Hochstein Eric - 2017 - Biology and Philosophy 32 (6):1105-1125.
    Traditionally, a scientific model is thought to provide a good scientific explanation to the extent that it satisfies certain scientific goals that are thought to be constitutive of explanation. Problems arise when we realize that individual scientific models cannot simultaneously satisfy all the scientific goals typically associated with explanation. A given model’s ability to satisfy some goals must always come at the expense of satisfying others. This has resulted in philosophical disputes regarding which of these goals are in fact necessary (...)
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  • Biology Meets Physics: Reductionism and Multi-Scale Modeling of Morphogenesis.Sara Green & Robert Batterman - 2017 - Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part C: Studies in History and Philosophy of Biological and Biomedical Sciences 7161:20-34.
    A common reductionist assumption is that macro-scale behaviors can be described "bottom-up" if only sufficient details about lower-scale processes are available. The view that an "ideal" or "fundamental" physics would be sufficient to explain all macro-scale phenomena has been met with criticism from philosophers of biology. Specifically, scholars have pointed to the impossibility of deducing biological explanations from physical ones, and to the irreducible nature of distinctively biological processes such as gene regulation and evolution. This paper takes a step back (...)
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  • Explanation and Understanding: An Alternative to Strevens’ Depth.Angela Potochnik - 2011 - European Journal for Philosophy of Science 1 (1):29-38.
    Michael Strevens offers an account of causal explanation according to which explanatory practice is shaped by counterbalanced commitments to representing causal influence and abstracting away from overly specific details. In this paper, I challenge a key feature of that account. I argue that what Strevens calls explanatory frameworks figure prominently in explanatory practice because they actually improve explanations. This suggestion is simple but has far-reaching implications. It affects the status of explanations that cite multiply realizable properties; changes the explanatory role (...)
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  • Two Strategies for Investigating the Evolution of Behavior.Michael Trestman - 2011 - Biology and Philosophy 26 (6):871-889.
    In this paper I distinguish and characterize two strategies, both prominent in contemporary biology, for investigating the evolution of behavior. The ‘Lorenzian Strategy’ is taxon-focused, holistic, and particularistic, and relies heavily on naturalistic observation as well as careful experimental manipulation of target systems; it tends to produce detailed knowledge of concrete historical instances of the evolution of behavior in particular lineages. The ‘Analytic Strategy’ is principle-focused, generative, and taxonomically universal; it relies on the development of mathematical principles (simple analytic models) (...)
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  • Defusing Ideological Defenses in Biology.Angela Potochnik - 2013 - BioScience 63 (2):118-123.
    Ideological language is widespread in theoretical biology. Evolutionary game theory has been defended as a worldview and a leap of faith, and sexual selection theory has been criticized for what it posits as basic to biological nature. Views such as these encourage the impression of ideological rifts in the field. I advocate an alternative interpretation, whereby many disagreements between different camps of biologists merely reflect methodological differences. This interpretation provides a more accurate and more optimistic account of the state of (...)
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  • Hot-Blooded Gluttons: Dependency, Coherence, and Method in the Historical Sciences.Adrian Currie - 2017 - British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 68 (4):929-952.
    Our epistemic access to the past is infamously patchy: historical information degrades and disappears and bygone eras are often beyond the reach of repeatable experiments. However, historical scientists have been remarkably successful at uncovering and explaining the past. I argue that part of this success is explained by the exploitation of dependencies between historical events, entities, and processes. For instance, if sauropod dinosaurs were hot blooded, they must have been gluttons; the high-energy demands of endothermy restrict sauropod grazing strategies. Understanding (...)
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  • Musical Pluralism and the Science of Music.Adrian Currie & Anton Killin - 2016 - European Journal for Philosophy of Science 6 (1):9-30.
    The scientific investigation of music requires contributions from a diverse array of disciplines. Given the diverse methodologies, interests and research targets of the disciplines involved, we argue that there is a plurality of legitimate research questions about music, necessitating a focus on integration. In light of this we recommend a pluralistic conception of music—that there is no unitary definition divorced from some discipline, research question or context. This has important implications for how the scientific study of music ought to proceed: (...)
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  • Cultural Evolution and the Social Sciences: A Case of Unification?Catherine Driscoll - 2018 - Biology and Philosophy 33 (1-2):7.
    This paper addresses the question of how to understand the relationship between Cultural Evolutionary Science and the social sciences, given that they coexist and both study cultural change. I argue that CES is best understood as having a unificatory or integrative role between evolutionary biology and the social sciences, and that it is best characterized as a bridge field; I describe the concept of a bridge field and how it relates to other non-reductionist accounts of unification or integration used in (...)
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  • Models, Robustness, and Non-Causal Explanation: A Foray Into Cognitive Science and Biology.Elizabeth Irvine - 2015 - Synthese 192 (12):3943-3959.
    This paper is aimed at identifying how a model’s explanatory power is constructed and identified, particularly in the practice of template-based modeling (Humphreys, Philos Sci 69:1–11, 2002; Extending ourselves: computational science, empiricism, and scientific method, 2004), and what kinds of explanations models constructed in this way can provide. In particular, this paper offers an account of non-causal structural explanation that forms an alternative to causal–mechanical accounts of model explanation that are currently popular in philosophy of biology and cognitive science. Clearly, (...)
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