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Explanation and explanationism in science and metaphysics

In Matthew Slater & Zanja Yudell (eds.), Metaphysics and the Philosophy of Science: New Essays. Oxford University Press (forthcoming)

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  1. (In)effective realism?Juha Saatsi - 2022 - European Journal for Philosophy of Science 12 (2):1-16.
    Matthias Egg argues that scientific realism can be reconciled with quantum mechanics and its foundational underdetermination by focusing realist commitments on ‘effective’ ontology. I argue in general terms that Egg’s effective realism is ontologically overly promiscuous. I illustrate the issue in relation to both Newtonian mechanics and quantum mechanics.
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  • The Structuralist Approach to Underdetermination.Chanwoo Lee - 2022 - Synthese 200 (2):1-25.
    This paper provides an exposition of the structuralist approach to underdetermination, which aims to resolve the underdetermination of theories by identifying their common theoretical structure. Applications of the structuralist approach can be found in many areas of philosophy. I present a schema of the structuralist approach, which conceptually unifies such applications in different subject matters. It is argued that two classic arguments in the literature, Paul Benacerraf’s argument on natural numbers and W. V. O. Quine’s argument for the indeterminacy of (...)
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  • Neo-Quinean and Neo-Aristotelian Metaontology : On Explanation, Theory Choice, and the Viability of Ontological Inquiry.Micheál Vincent Lacey - unknown
    This thesis is an exercise in comparative metaontology. I am centrally concerned with how one might choose between competing metaontological theories. To make my project tractable, I compare two contemporary metaontological approaches dominant in the literature: neo-Quineanism and neo-Aristotelianism. Peter van Inwagen, a representative of N-Q, claims that ontological inquiry should be conducted in the quantifier-variable idiom of first-order predicate logic; to know what exists, or what a theory says exists, we read our commitments off the regimented sentences that we (...)
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  • The Explanatory Role of Concepts.Samuel D. Taylor & Gottfried Vosgerau - 2021 - Erkenntnis 86 (5):1045-1070.
    Machery and Weiskopf argue that the kind concept is a natural kind if and only if it plays an explanatory role in cognitive scientific explanations. In this paper, we argue against this explanationist approach to determining the natural kind-hood of concept. We first demonstrate that hybrid, pluralist, and eliminativist theories of concepts afford the kind concept different explanatory roles. Then, we argue that we cannot decide between hybrid, pluralist, and eliminativist theories of concepts, because each endorses a different, but equally (...)
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  • Metaphysical Underdetermination as a Motivational Device.Steven French - unknown
    The view that quantum particles cannot be regarded as individuals was articulated in the early days of the 'quantum revolution' and became so well-entrenched that French and Krause called it 'the Received View'. However it was subsequently shown that quantum statistics is in fact compatible with a metaphysics of particle individuality, subject to certain caveats. As a consequent it has been claim that there exists a kind of underdetermination of the metaphysics by the physics which in turn has been used (...)
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  • The Tools of Metaphysics and the Metaphysics of Science, by Ted Sider.Steven French - 2022 - Mind 131 (521):361-369.
    According to one prominent view, current metaphysics is hopelessly disconnected from the implications of modern science and as a result should be abandoned forthwith (Ladyman and Ross 2007). Others have taken a more conciliatory stance, suggesting that the metaphysicians’ toolbox may yet yield devices that could prove useful to the philosopher of science (French and McKenzie 2012). In this book, Sider aims to contribute to the metaphysics of science by setting out an array of such tools and indicating which are (...)
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  • The Tools of Metaphysics and the Metaphysics of Science.Steven French - forthcoming - Mind.
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  • Non-Uniformism and the Epistemology of Philosophically Interesting Modal Claims.Ylwa Sjölin Wirling - 2021 - Grazer Philosophische Studien 98:629-656.
    Philosophers often make exotic-sounding modal claims, such as: “A timeless world is impossible”, “The laws of physics could have been different from what they are”, “There could have been an additional phenomenal colour”. Otherwise popular empiricist modal epistemologies in the contemporary literature cannot account for whatever epistemic justification we might have for making such modal claims. Those who do not, as a result of this, endorse scepticism with respect to their epistemic status typically suggest that they can be justified but (...)
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  • Toying with the Toolbox: How Metaphysics Can Still Make a Contribution.Steven French - 2018 - Journal for General Philosophy of Science / Zeitschrift für Allgemeine Wissenschaftstheorie 49 (2):211-230.
    Current analytic metaphysics has been claimed to be, at best, out of touch with modern physics, at worst, actually in conflict with the latter The continuum companion to the philosophy of science, Continuum, London, 2011; Ladyman and Ross Every thing must go: metaphysics naturalized, Oxford University Press, Oxford, 2007). While agreeing with some of these claims, it has been suggested that metaphysics may still be of service by providing a kind of ‘toolbox’ of devices that philosophers of science can access (...)
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  • Naturalistic Metaphysics at Sea.Matthew Haug - 2018 - Philosophical Inquiries 6 (1):95-122.
    In this paper I return to the mid-20th-century debate between Quine and Carnap on the status of metaphysics questions with an eye toward advancing contemporary debates about whether naturalists can coherently undertake substantive metaphysical inquiry. Following Huw Price, I take the debate between Quine and Carnap to hinge, in part, on whether human inquiry is functionally unified. However, unlike Price, I suggest that this question is not best understood as a question about the function(s) of descriptive discourse. This goes along (...)
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  • Simplicity as a Criterion of Theory Choice in Metaphysics.Andrew Brenner - 2017 - Philosophical Studies 174 (11):2687-2707.
    Metaphysicians frequently appeal to the idea that theoretical simplicity is truth conducive in metaphysics, in the sense that, all other things being equal, simpler metaphysical theories are more likely to be true. In this paper I defend the notion that theoretical simplicity is truth conducive in metaphysics, against several recent objections. I do not give any direct arguments for the thesis that simplicity is truth conducive in metaphysics, since I am aware of no such arguments. I do argue, however, that (...)
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  • Realism and the Limits of Explanatory Reasoning.Juha Saatsi - 2018 - In The Routledge Handbook of Scientific Realism. London: Routledge. pp. 200-211.
    This chapter examines issues surrounding inference to the best explanation, its justification, and its role in different arguments for scientific realism, as well as more general issues concerning explanations’ ontological commitments. Defending the reliability of inference to the best explanation has been a central plank in various realist arguments, and realists have drawn various ontological conclusions from the premise that a given scientific explanation best explains some phenomenon. This chapter stresses the importance of thinking carefully about the nature of explanation (...)
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  • Set-Theoretic Justification and the Theoretical Virtues.John Heron - 2020 - Synthese 199 (1-2):1245-1267.
    Recent discussions of how axioms are extrinsically justified have appealed to abductive considerations: on such accounts, axioms are adopted on the basis that they constitute the best explanation of some mathematical data, or phenomena. In the first part of this paper, I set out a potential problem caused by the appeal made to the notion of mathematical explanation and suggest that it can be remedied once it is noted that all the justificatory work is done by appeal to the theoretical (...)
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