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  1. Sustainability and the Infinite Future: A Case Study of a False Modeling Assumption in Environmental Economics.Daniel Steel - 2017 - Erkenntnis 82 (5):1065-1084.
    This essay examines the issue of false assumptions in models via a case study of a prominent economic model of sustainable development, wherein the assumption of an infinite future plays a central role. Two proposals are found to be helpful for this case, one based on the concept of derivational robustness and the other on understanding. Both suggest that the assumption of an infinite future, while arguably legitimate in some applications of the model, is problematic with respect to what I (...)
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  • Beyond Explanation: Understanding as Dependency Modeling.Finnur Dellsén - 2018 - British Journal for the Philosophy of Science (4):1261-1286.
    This paper presents and argues for an account of objectual understanding that aims to do justice to the full range of cases of scientific understanding, including cases in which one does not have an explanation of the understood phenomenon. According to the proposed account, one understands a phenomenon just in case one grasps a sufficiently accurate and comprehensive model of the ways in which it or its features are situated within a network of dependence relations; one’s degree of understanding is (...)
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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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  • Problems and Questions in Scientific Practice.Steve Elliott - manuscript
    Philosophers increasingly study how scientists conduct actual scientific projects and the goals they pursue. But as of yet, there are few accounts of goals that can be used to identify different kinds, and specific instances, of goals pursued by scientists. I propose that there are at least four distinct kinds of goals pursued by scientists: ameliorating problems, addressing questions, satisfying values, and achieving epistemic aims. I focus on the first two kinds, and I provide tools to help conceptualize, distinguish, and (...)
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  • When Do Scientific Explanations Compete? Steps Toward a Heuristic Checklist.Todd Jones & Michael Pravica - 2017 - Metaphilosophy 48 (1-2):96-122.
    It's not uncommon for scientists to give different explanations of the same phenomenon, but we currently lack clear guidelines for deciding whether to treat such accounts as competitors. This article discusses how science studies can help create tools and guidelines for thinking about whether explanations compete. It also specifies how one family of discourse rules enables there to be differing accounts that appear to compete but don't. One hopes that being more aware of the linguistic mechanisms making compatible accounts appear (...)
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  • Scientific Progress: Four Accounts.Finnur Dellsén - 2018 - Philosophy Compass 13 (11):e12525.
    Scientists are constantly making observations, carrying out experiments, and analyzing empirical data. Meanwhile, scientific theories are routinely being adopted, revised, discarded, and replaced. But when are such changes to the content of science improvements on what came before? This is the question of scientific progress. One answer is that progress occurs when scientific theories ‘get closer to the truth’, i.e. increase their degree of truthlikeness. A second answer is that progress consists in increasing theories’ effectiveness for solving scientific problems. A (...)
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  • Should Scientific Realists Embrace Theoretical Conservatism?Finnur Dellsén - 2018 - Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part A:30-38.
    A prominent type of scientific realism holds that some important parts of our best current scientific theories are at least approximately true. According to such realists, radically distinct alternatives to these theories or theory-parts are unlikely to be approximately true. Thus one might be tempted to argue, as the prominent anti-realist Kyle Stanford recently did, that realists of this kind have little or no reason to encourage scientists to attempt to identify and develop theoretical alternatives that are radically distinct from (...)
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  • Understanding physics: ‘What?’, ‘Why?’, and ‘How?’.Mario Hubert - 2021 - European Journal for Philosophy of Science 11 (3):1-36.
    I want to combine two hitherto largely independent research projects, scientific understanding and mechanistic explanations. Understanding is not only achieved by answering why-questions, that is, by providing scientific explanations, but also by answering what-questions, that is, by providing what I call scientific descriptions. Based on this distinction, I develop three forms of understanding: understanding-what, understanding-why, and understanding-how. I argue that understanding-how is a particularly deep form of understanding, because it is based on mechanistic explanations, which answer why something happens in (...)
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  • Does Environmental Science Crowd Out Non-Epistemic Values?Kinley Gillette, Stephen Andrew Inkpen & C. Tyler DesRoches - 2021 - Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part A 87:81-92.
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  • Explicating Objectual Understanding: Taking Degrees Seriously.Christoph Baumberger - 2019 - Journal for General Philosophy of Science / Zeitschrift für Allgemeine Wissenschaftstheorie 50 (3):367-388.
    The paper argues that an account of understanding should take the form of a Carnapian explication and acknowledge that understanding comes in degrees. An explication of objectual understanding is defended, which helps to make sense of the cognitive achievements and goals of science. The explication combines a necessary condition with three evaluative dimensions: an epistemic agent understands a subject matter by means of a theory only if the agent commits herself sufficiently to the theory of the subject matter, and to (...)
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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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  • The Aims and Structures of Research Projects That Use Gene Regulatory Information with Evolutionary Genetic Models.Steve Elliott - 2017 - Dissertation, Arizona State University
    At the interface of developmental biology and evolutionary biology, the very criteria of scientific knowledge are up for grabs. A central issue is the status of evolutionary genetics models, which some argue cannot coherently be used with complex gene regulatory network (GRN) models to explain the same evolutionary phenomena. Despite those claims, many researchers use evolutionary genetics models jointly with GRN models to study evolutionary phenomena. This dissertation compares two recent research projects in which researchers jointly use the two kinds (...)
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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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  • Novel & worthy: creativity as a thick epistemic concept.Julia Sánchez-Dorado - 2020 - European Journal for Philosophy of Science 10 (3):1-23.
    The standard view in current philosophy of creativity says that being creative has two requirements: being novel and being valuable. The standard view on creativity has recently become an object of critical scrutiny. Hills and Bird have specifically proposed to remove the value requirement from the definition, as it is not clear that creative objects are necessarily valuable or creative people necessarily praiseworthy. In this paper, I argue against Hills and Bird, since eliminating the element of value from the explanation (...)
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  • Representationalism is a Dead End.Guilherme Sanches de Oliveira - 2018 - Synthese 198 (1):209-235.
    Representationalism—the view that scientific modeling is best understood in representational terms—is the received view in contemporary philosophy of science. Contributions to this literature have focused on a number of puzzles concerning the nature of representation and the epistemic role of misrepresentation, without considering whether these puzzles are the product of an inadequate analytical framework. The goal of this paper is to suggest that this possibility should be taken seriously. The argument has two parts, employing the “can’t have” and “don’t need” (...)
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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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  • Introduction: Cognitive Attitudes and Values in Science.Daniel J. McKaughan & Kevin C. Elliott - 2015 - Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part A 53:57-61.
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  • The Multifaceted Role of Imagination in Science and Religion. A Critical Examination of its Epistemic, Creative and Meaning-Making Functions.Ingrid Malm Lindberg - 2021 - Dissertation, Uppsala University
    The main purpose of this dissertation is to examine critically and discuss the role of imagination in science and religion, with particular emphasis on its possible epistemic, creative, and meaning-making functions. In order to answer my research questions, I apply theories and concepts from contemporary philosophy of mind on scientific and religious practices. This framework allows me to explore the mental state of imagination, not as an isolated phenomenon but, rather, as one of many mental states that co-exist and interplay (...)
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  • Explicating Objectual Understanding: Taking Degrees Seriously.Christoph Baumberger - 2019 - Journal for General Philosophy of Science / Zeitschrift für Allgemeine Wissenschaftstheorie 1:1-22.
    The paper argues that an account of understanding should take the form of a Carnapian explication and acknowledge that understanding comes in degrees. An explication of objectual understanding is defended, which helps to make sense of the cognitive achievements and goals of science. The explication combines a necessary condition with three evaluative dimensions: An epistemic agent understands a subject matter by means of a theory only if the agent commits herself sufficiently to the theory of the subject matter, and to (...)
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  • Understanding From Machine Learning Models.Emily Sullivan - forthcoming - British Journal for the Philosophy of Science:axz035.
    Simple idealized models seem to provide more understanding than opaque, complex, and hyper-realistic models. However, an increasing number of scientists are going in the opposite direction by utilizing opaque machine learning models to make predictions and draw inferences, suggesting that scientists are opting for models that have less potential for understanding. Are scientists trading understanding for some other epistemic or pragmatic good when they choose a machine learning model? Or are the assumptions behind why minimal models provide understanding misguided? In (...)
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  • Bottled Understanding: The Role of Lab Work in Ecology.Adrian Currie - 2020 - British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 71 (3):905-932.
    It is often thought that the vindication of experimental work lies in its capacity to be revelatory of natural systems. I challenge this idea by examining laboratory experiments in ecology. A central task of community ecology involves combining mathematical models and observational data to identify trophic interactions in natural systems. But many ecologists are also lab scientists: constructing microcosm or ‘bottle’ experiments, physically realizing the idealized circumstances described in mathematical models. What vindicates such ecological experiments? I argue that ‘extrapolationism’, the (...)
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  • Psa 2018.Philsci-Archive -Preprint Volume- - unknown
    These preprints were automatically compiled into a PDF from the collection of papers deposited in PhilSci-Archive in conjunction with the PSA 2018.
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  • Scientific Progress: Knowledge Versus Understanding.Finnur Dellsén - 2016 - Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part A 56:72-83.
    What is scientific progress? On Alexander Bird’s epistemic account of scientific progress, an episode in science is progressive precisely when there is more scientific knowledge at the end of the episode than at the beginning. Using Bird’s epistemic account as a foil, this paper develops an alternative understanding-based account on which an episode in science is progressive precisely when scientists grasp how to correctly explain or predict more aspects of the world at the end of the episode than at the (...)
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