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  1. Can We Have Physical Understanding of Mathematical Facts?Gabriel Tȃrziu - 2022 - Acta Analytica 37 (2):135-158.
    A lot of philosophical energy has been devoted recently in trying to determine if mathematics can contribute to our understanding of physical phenomena. Not many philosophers are interested, though, if the converse makes sense, i.e., if our cognitive interaction (scientific or otherwise) with the physical world can be helpful (in an explanatory or non-explanatory way) in our efforts to make sense of mathematical facts. My aim in this paper is to try to fill this important lacuna in the recent literature. (...)
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  • Not so distinctively mathematical explanations: topology and dynamical systems.Aditya Jha, Douglas Campbell, Clemency Montelle & Phillip L. Wilson - 2022 - Synthese 200 (3):1-40.
    So-called ‘distinctively mathematical explanations’ (DMEs) are said to explain physical phenomena, not in terms of contingent causal laws, but rather in terms of mathematical necessities that constrain the physical system in question. Lange argues that the existence of four or more equilibrium positions of any double pendulum has a DME. Here we refute both Lange’s claim itself and a strengthened and extended version of the claim that would pertain to any n-tuple pendulum system on the ground that such explanations are (...)
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  • Cognitive extra-mathematical explanations.Travis Holmes - 2022 - Synthese 200 (2):1-23.
    This paper advances the view that some explanations in cognitive science are extra-mathematical explanations. Demonstrating the plausibility of this interpretation centers around certain efficient coding cases which ineliminably enlist information theoretic laws, facts and theorems to identify in-principle, mathematical constraints on neuronal information processing capacities. The explanatory structure in these cases is shown to parallel other putative instances of mathematical explanation. The upshot for cognitive mathematical explanations is thus two-fold: first, the view capably rebuts standard mechanistic objections to non-mechanistic explanation; (...)
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  • Decoupling Topological Explanations From Mechanisms.Daniel Kostic & Kareem Khalifa - forthcoming - Philosophy of Science:1-39.
    We provide three innovations to recent debates about whether topological or “network” explanations are a species of mechanistic explanation. First, we more precisely characterize the requirement that all topological explanations are mechanistic explanations and show scientific practice to belie such a requirement. Second, we provide an account that unifies mechanistic and non-mechanistic topological explanations, thereby enriching both the mechanist and autonomist programs by highlighting when and where topological explanations are mechanistic. Third, we defend this view against some powerful mechanist objections. (...)
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  • The Directionality of Topological Explanations.Daniel Kostić & Kareem Khalifa - 2021 - Synthese (5-6):14143-14165.
    Proponents of ontic conceptions of explanation require all explanations to be backed by causal, constitutive, or similar relations. Among their justifications is that only ontic conceptions can do justice to the ‘directionality’ of explanation, i.e., the requirement that if X explains Y , then not-Y does not explain not-X . Using topological explanations as an illustration, we argue that non-ontic conceptions of explanation have ample resources for securing the directionality of explanations. The different ways in which neuroscientists rely on multiplexes (...)
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  • There Are No Mathematical Explanations.Jaakko Kuorikoski - 2021 - Philosophy of Science 88 (2):189-212.
    If ontic dependence is the basis of explanation, there cannot be mathematical explanations. Accounting for the explanatory dependency between mathematical properties and empirical phenomena poses i...
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  • Framing the Epistemic Schism of Statistical Mechanics.Javier Anta - 2021 - Proceedings of the X Conference of the Spanish Society of Logic, Methodology and Philosophy of Science.
    In this talk I present the main results from Anta (2021), namely, that the theoretical division between Boltzmannian and Gibbsian statistical mechanics should be understood as a separation in the epistemic capabilities of this physical discipline. In particular, while from the Boltzmannian framework one can generate powerful explanations of thermal processes by appealing to their microdynamics, from the Gibbsian framework one can predict observable values in a computationally effective way. Finally, I argue that this statistical mechanical schism contradicts the Hempelian (...)
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  • Mathematical Explanation: A Pythagorean Proposal.Samuel Baron - forthcoming - British Journal for the Philosophy of Science.
    Mathematics appears to play an explanatory role in science. This, in turn, is thought to pave a way toward mathematical Platonism. A central challenge for mathematical Platonists, however, is to provide an account of how mathematical explanations work. I propose a property-based account: physical systems possess mathematical properties, which either guarantee the presence of other mathematical properties and, by extension, the physical states that possess them; or rule out other mathematical properties, and their associated physical states. I explain why Platonists (...)
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  • Unification and Mathematical Explanation in Science.Sam Baron - 2021 - Synthese 199 (3-4):7339-7363.
    Mathematics clearly plays an important role in scientific explanation. Debate continues, however, over the kind of role that mathematics plays. I argue that if pure mathematical explananda and physical explananda are unified under a common explanation within science, then we have good reason to believe that mathematics is explanatory in its own right. The argument motivates the search for a new kind of scientific case study, a case in which pure mathematical facts and physical facts are explanatorily unified. I argue (...)
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  • Unification and mathematical explanation.Robert Knowles - 2021 - Philosophical Studies 178 (12):3923-3943.
    This paper provides a sorely-needed evaluation of the view that mathematical explanations in science explain by unifying. Illustrating with some novel examples, I argue that the view is misguided. For believers in mathematical explanations in science, my discussion rules out one way of spelling out how they work, bringing us one step closer to the right way. For non-believers, it contributes to a divide-and-conquer strategy for showing that there are no such explanations in science. My discussion also undermines the appeal (...)
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  • Metaphysical explanations and the counterfactual theory of explanation.Stefan Roski - 2020 - Philosophical Studies 178 (6):1971-1991.
    According to an increasingly popular view among philosophers of science, both causal and non-causal explanations can be accounted for by a single theory: the counterfactual theory of explanation. A kind of non-causal explanation that has gained much attention recently but that this theory seems unable to account for are grounding explanations. Reutlinger :239-256, 2017) has argued that, despite these appearances to the contrary, such explanations are covered by his version of the counterfactual theory. His idea is supported by recent work (...)
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  • Modality and constitution in distinctively mathematical explanations.Mark Povich - 2020 - European Journal for Philosophy of Science 10 (3):1-10.
    Lange argues that some natural phenomena can be explained by appeal to mathematical, rather than natural, facts. In these “distinctively mathematical” explanations, the core explanatory facts are either modally stronger than facts about ordinary causal law or understood to be constitutive of the physical task or arrangement at issue. Craver and Povich argue that Lange’s account of DME fails to exclude certain “reversals”. Lange has replied that his account can avoid these directionality charges. Specifically, Lange argues that in legitimate DMEs, (...)
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