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Explaining Explanation

Routledge (1990)

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  1. Grounding in the Image of Causation.Jonathan Schaffer - 2016 - Philosophical Studies 173 (1):49-100.
    Grounding is often glossed as metaphysical causation, yet no current theory of grounding looks remotely like a plausible treatment of causation. I propose to take the analogy between grounding and causation seriously, by providing an account of grounding in the image of causation, on the template of structural equation models for causation.
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  • Deflationism, Conceptual Explanation, and the Truth Asymmetry.David Liggins - 2016 - Philosophical Quarterly 66 (262):84-101.
    Ascriptions of truth give rise to an explanatory asymmetry. For instance, we accept ‘ is true because Rex is barking’ but reject ‘Rex is barking because is true’. Benjamin Schnieder and other philosophers have recently proposed a fresh explanation of this asymmetry : they have suggested that the asymmetry has a conceptual rather than a metaphysical source. The main business of this paper is to assess this proposal, both on its own terms and as an option for deflationists. I offer (...)
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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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  • Truth, Grounding & Dependence.Robin Stenwall - 2015 - Dissertation, Lund University
    The subjects of this thesis are truth, grounding and dependence. The thesis consists of an introduction and five free-standing essays. The purpose of the introduction is not merely to summarize the papers, but to provide a general background to the discussions in the essays. The introduction is divided into four chapters, each of which splits into a number of sections and/or subsections. Chapter 1. concerns the notion of ontological dependence. I start by making a distinction between two different types of (...)
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  • Ontic Explanation Is Either Ontic or Explanatory, but Not Both.Cory Wright & Dingmar van Eck - 2018 - Ergo: An Open Access Journal of Philosophy 5:997–1029.
    What features will something have if it counts as an explanation? And will something count as an explanation if it has those features? In the second half of the 20th century, philosophers of science set for themselves the task of answering such questions, just as a priori conceptual analysis was generally falling out of favor. And as it did, most philosophers of science just moved on to more manageable questions about the varieties of explanation and discipline-specific scientific explanation. Often, such (...)
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  • Truthmakers and Dependence.David Liggins - 2012 - In Fabrice Correia & Benjamin Schnieder (eds.), Metaphysical Grounding: Understanding the Structure of Reality. Cambridge University Press. pp. 254.
    This paper discusses the significance of non-causal dependence for truthmaker theory. After introducing truthmaker theory (section 1), I discuss a challenge to it levelled by Benjamin Schnieder. I argue that Schnieder’s challenge can be met once we acknowledge the existence of non-causal dependence and of explanations which rely on it (sections 2 to 5). I then mount my own argument against truthmaker theory, based on the notion of non-causal dependence (sections 6 and 7).
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  • Truthmakers and the Groundedness of Truth.David Liggins - 2008 - Proceedings of the Aristotelian Society 108 (1pt2):177-196.
    Truthmaker theorists claim that for every truth, there is something in virtue of which it is true—or, more cautiously, that for every truth in some specified class of truths, there is something in virtue of which it is true. I argue that it is hard to see how the thought that truth is grounded in reality lends any support to truthmaker theory.
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  • Normative Appeals to the Natural.Pekka Väyrynen - 2009 - Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 79 (2):279 - 314.
    Surprisingly, many ethical realists and anti-realists, naturalists and not, all accept some version of the following normative appeal to the natural (NAN): evaluative and normative facts hold solely in virtue of natural facts, where their naturalness is part of what fits them for the job. This paper argues not that NAN is false but that NAN has no adequate non-parochial justification (a justification that relies only on premises which can be accepted by more or less everyone who accepts NAN) to (...)
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  • The Last Stand of the Covering-Law Theory: A Reply to Opp.Petri Ylikoski - 2013 - Social Science Information 52 (3):383-393.
    In his paper Karl-Dieter Opp heroically sets out to defend both the adequacy and socio- logical fruitfulness of the covering-law account of explanation (the HO scheme). The attempt is bold, as he is not only defending the HO scheme as a theory of explanation but also as a scheme for finding and establishing causal relationships. In this reply I argue that the defense is not successful; quite the contrary, it clearly demonstrates why mecha- nism-based reasoning is important in the social (...)
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  • Explaining Explanations in AI.Brent Mittelstadt - forthcoming - FAT* 2019 Proceedings 1.
    Recent work on interpretability in machine learning and AI has focused on the building of simplified models that approximate the true criteria used to make decisions. These models are a useful pedagogical device for teaching trained professionals how to predict what decisions will be made by the complex system, and most importantly how the system might break. However, when considering any such model it’s important to remember Box’s maxim that "All models are wrong but some are useful." We focus on (...)
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  • Properties, Powers, and the Subset Account of Realization.Paul Audi - 2012 - Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 84 (3):654-674.
    According to the subset account of realization, a property, F, is realized by another property, G, whenever F is individuated by a non-empty proper subset of the causal powers by which G is individuated (and F is not a conjunctive property of which G is a conjunct). This account is especially attractive because it seems both to explain the way in which realized properties are nothing over and above their realizers, and to provide for the causal efficacy of realized properties. (...)
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  • Awareness of Abstract Objects.Elijah Chudnoff - 2013 - Noûs 47 (4):706-726.
    Awareness is a two-place determinable relation some determinates of which are seeing, hearing, etc. Abstract objects are items such as universals and functions, which contrast with concrete objects such as solids and liquids. It is uncontroversial that we are sometimes aware of concrete objects. In this paper I explore the more controversial topic of awareness of abstract objects. I distinguish two questions. First, the Existence Question: are there any experiences that make their subjects aware of abstract objects? Second, the Grounding (...)
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  • Theoretical Identities as Explanantia and Explananda.Kevin Morris - 2011 - American Philosophical Quarterly 48 (4):373-385.
    The mind-brain identity theory, the thesis that sensations are identical with properties or processes of the brain, was introduced into contemporary discussion by U.T. Place, Herbert Feigl, and J.J.C Smart in the 1950s. Despite its widespread rejection in the following decades, the identity theory has received several carefully articulated defenses in recent years. Aside from developing novel responses to well-known arguments against the identity theory, contemporary identity theorists have argued that the epistemological resources available to support the adoption of identities (...)
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  • Causal Theories of Explanation and the Challenge of Explanatory Disagreement.Lina Jansson - 2014 - Philosophy of Science 81 (3):332-348.
    When evaluating the success of causal theories of explanation the focus has typically been on the legitimacy of causal relations and on putative examples of explanations that we cannot capture in causal terms. Here I motivate the existence of a third kind of problem: the difficulty of accounting for explanatory disputes. Moreover, I argue that this problem remains even if the first two are settled and that it threatens to undercut one of the central motivations for causal accounts of explanation, (...)
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  • Romeo, René, and the Reasons Why: What Explanation Is.C. S. Jenkins - 2008 - Proceedings of the Aristotelian Society 108 (1pt1):61-84.
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  • Knowledge, Practical Interests, and Rising Tides.Stephen R. Grimm - 2015 - In John Greco & David Henderson (eds.), Epistemic Evaluation: Purposeful Epistemology. Oxford University Press.
    Defenders of pragmatic encroachment in epistemology (or what I call practicalism) need to address two main problems. First, the view seems to imply, absurdly, that knowledge can come and go quite easily—in particular, that it might come and go along with our variable practical interests. We can call this the stability problem. Second, there seems to be no fully satisfying way of explaining whose practical interests matter. We can call this the “whose stakes?” problem. I argue that both problems can (...)
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  • Grounding and Normative Explanation.Pekka Väyrynen - 2013 - Aristotelian Society Supplementary Volume 87 (1):155-178.
    This paper concerns non-causal normative explanations such as ‘This act is wrong because/in virtue of__’. The familiar intuition that normative facts aren't brute or ungrounded but anchored in non- normative facts seems to be in tension with the equally familiar idea that no normative fact can be fully explained in purely non- normative terms. I ask whether the tension could be resolved by treating the explanatory relation in normative explanations as the sort of ‘grounding’ relation that receives extensive discussion in (...)
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  • Pragmatics and Pragmatic Considerations in Explanation.Mark Dietrich Tschaepe - 2009 - Contemporary Pragmatism 6 (2):25-44.
    I provide a brief history of pragmatics as it relates to explanation, highlighting the great neglect of pragmatics and pragmatic considerations in regard to explanation during the mid-twentieth century. In order to understand pragmatic considerations regarding explanation, I utilize the work of Bas C. van Fraassen, Peter Achinstein, and Jan Faye. These thinkers provide crucial tools for understanding pragmatics, especially with regard to concepts such as context and exigence. The work of these thinkers provides the platform from which I compose (...)
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  • Normative Explanation and Justification.Pekka Väyrynen - forthcoming - Noûs.
    Normative explanations of why things are wrong, good, or unfair are ubiquitous in ordinary practice and normative theory. This paper argues that normative explanation is subject to a justification condition: a correct complete explanation of why a normative fact holds must identify features that would go at least some way towards justifying certain actions or attitudes. I first explain and motivate the condition I propose. I then support it by arguing that it fits well with various theories of normative reasons, (...)
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  • Understanding Interests and Causal Explanation.Petri Ylikoski - 2001 - Dissertation, University of Helsinki
    This work consists of two parts. Part I will be a contribution to a philo- sophical discussion of the nature of causal explanation. It will present my contrastive counterfactual theory of causal explanation and show how it can be used to deal with a number of problems facing theories of causal explanation. Part II is a contribution to a discussion of the na- ture of interest explanation in social studies of science. The aim is to help to resolve some controversies (...)
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  • Truthmaking and Grounding.Aaron M. Griffith - 2014 - Inquiry: An Interdisciplinary Journal of Philosophy 57 (2):196-215.
    This paper is concerned with the relation between two important metaphysical notions, ‘truthmaking’ and ‘grounding’. I begin by considering various ways in which truthmaking could be explicated in terms of grounding, noting both strengths and weaknesses of these analyses. I go on to articulate a problem for any attempt to analyze truthmaking in terms of a generic and primitive notion of grounding based on differences we find among examples of grounding. Finally, I outline a more complex view of how truthmaking (...)
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  • Ontological Relativity and Meaning‐Variance: A Critical‐Constructive Review.Christopher Norris - 1997 - Inquiry: An Interdisciplinary Journal of Philosophy 40 (2):139 – 173.
    This article offers a critical review of various ontological-relativist arguments, mostly deriving from the work of W. V. Quine and Thomas K hn. I maintain that these arguments are (1) internally contradictory, (2) incapable of accounting for our knowledge of the growth of scientific knowledge, and (3) shown up as fallacious from the standpoint of a causal-realist approach to issues of truth, meaning, and interpretation. Moreover, they have often been viewed as lending support to such programmes as the 'strong' sociology (...)
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  • Explanation and Mental Causation.Jennifer Lackey - 2002 - Southern Journal of Philosophy 40 (3):375-393.
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  • Supervenience, Metaphysical Reduction, and Metaphysics of Properties.Giovanna Hendel - 2001 - Southern Journal of Philosophy 39 (1):99-118.
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  • Emotion, Utility Maximization, and Ecological Rationality.Yakir Levin & Itzhak Aharon - 2014 - Mind and Society 13 (2):227-245.
    This paper examines the adequacy of an evolutionary-oriented notion of rationality—ecological rationality—that has recently been proposed in economics. Ecological rationality is concerned with what it is rational to do, and in this sense is a version of what philosophers call ‘practical rationality’. Indeed, the question of the adequacy of ecological rationality as it is understood in the paper, is the question of whether ecological rationality is a genuine notion of practical rationality. The paper first explicates and motivates the notion of (...)
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  • Is Understanding Explanatory or Objectual?Kareem Khalifa - 2013 - Synthese 190 (6):1153-1171.
    Jonathan Kvanvig has argued that “objectual” understanding, i.e. the understanding we have of a large body of information, cannot be reduced to explanatory concepts. In this paper, I show that Kvanvig fails to establish this point, and then propose a framework for reducing objectual understanding to explanatory understanding.
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  • Scientific W-Explanation as Ampliative, Specialized Embedding: A Neo-Hempelian Account.José Díez - 2014 - Erkenntnis 79 (S8):1413-1443.
    The goal of this paper is to present and defend an empiricist, neo-Hempelian account of scientific explanation as ampliative, specialized embedding. The proposal aims to preserve what I take to be the core of Hempel’s empiricist account, by weakening it in some respects and strengthening it in others, introducing two new conditions that solve most of Hempel’s problems without abandoning his empiricist strictures. According to this proposal, to explain a phenomenon is to make it expectable by introducing new conceptual/ontological machinery (...)
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  • The Third Dogma Revisited.Petri Ylikoski - 2005 - Foundations of Science 10 (4):395–419.
    This paper is an attempt to further our understanding of mechanisms conceived of as ontologically separable from laws. What opportunities are there for a mechanistic perspective to be independent of, or even more fundamental than, a law perspective? Advocates of the mechanistic view often play with the possibility of internal and external reliability, or with the paralleling possibilities of enforcing, counteracting, redirecting, etc., the mechanisms’ power to produce To further this discussion I adopt a trope ontology. It is independent of (...)
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  • The Dispositionalist Conception of Laws.Alexander Bird - 2005 - Foundations of Science 10 (4):353-70.
    This paper sketches a dispositionalist conception of laws and shows how the dispositionalist should respond to certain objections. The view that properties are essentially dispositional is able to provide an account of laws that avoids the problems that face the two views of laws (the regularity and the contingent nomic necessitation views) that regard properties as categorical and laws as contingent. I discuss and reject the objections that (i) this view makes laws necessary whereas they are contingent; (ii) this view (...)
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  • Some Aspects of Explanation in Boškovič.Zvonimir Čuljak - 1995 - International Studies in the Philosophy of Science 9 (1):73-84.
    Abstract Bo?kovi?'s explanatory procedure and his concept of explanation represents a certain departure from Newton's causal theory and his theory of explanation. Apart from particular elements of causal explanation, Bo?kovi? developed an alternative, non?causal explanatory strategy. In this paper two different elements of this strategy are discussed: (i) the micro?reductive explanatory strategy based on Bo?kovi?'s idea of determination, and (ii) a type of explanation of a theory by means of a more general law, through a thought?experiment. In addition, an outline (...)
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  • Without Reason?Benjamin Schnieder & Alex Steinberg - 2015 - Pacific Philosophical Quarterly 96 (3).
    The argument for modal collapse is partly responsible for the widespread rejection of the so-called Principle of Sufficient Reason in recent times. This paper discusses the PSR against the background of the recent debate about grounding and develops principled reasons for rejecting the argument from modal collapse.
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  • Understanding Why.Alison Hills - 2015 - Noûs 49 (2):661-688.
    I argue that understanding why p involves a kind of intellectual know how and differsfrom both knowledge that p and knowledge why p (as they are standardly understood).I argue that understanding, in this sense, is valuable.
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  • Propositions United.Benjamin Schnieder - 2010 - Dialectica 64 (2):289-301.
    Gaskin's book The Unity of the Proposition is very rich in material. I will focus only on its central thesis: Gaskin holds that Bradley's regress (more precisely, one particular version of it) is not only innocent, but in fact philosophically significant because it plays a crucial role in solving what Gaskin calls the problem of the unity of the proposition . In what follows, I first explain what that problem is meant to be ( section 1 ), then I present (...)
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  • On Explanatory Relata in Singular Causal Explanation.Eugen Zeleňák - 2009 - Theoria 75 (3):179-195.
    Explanation is usually taken to be a relation between certain entities. The aim of this paper is to discuss what entities are suitable as explanatory relata of singular causal explanations, i.e., explanations concerning singular causality relating particular events or other appropriate entities. I outline three different positions. The purely causal approach stipulates that the same entities that are related in the singular causal relation are also linked by the explanatory relation. This position, however, has a problem to distinguish between causation (...)
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  • Cosmological Arguments From Contingency.Joshua Rasmussen - 2010 - Philosophy Compass 5 (9):806-819.
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