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  1. Design Principles and Mechanistic Explanation.Wei Fang - 2022 - History and Philosophy of the Life Sciences 44 (4):1-23.
    In this essay I propose that what design principles in systems biology and systems neuroscience do is to present abstract characterizations of mechanisms, and thereby facilitate mechanistic explanation. To show this, one design principle in systems neuroscience, i.e., the multilayer perceptron, is examined. However, Braillard contends that design principles provide a sort of non-mechanistic explanation due to two related reasons: they are very general and describe non-causal dependence relationships. In response to this, I argue that, on the one hand, all (...)
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  • Mechanist Idealisation in Systems Biology.Dingmar van Eck & Cory Wright - 2020 - Synthese 199 (1-2):1555-1575.
    This paper adds to the philosophical literature on mechanistic explanation by elaborating two related explanatory functions of idealisation in mechanistic models. The first function involves explaining the presence of structural/organizational features of mechanisms by reference to their role as difference-makers for performance requirements. The second involves tracking counterfactual dependency relations between features of mechanisms and features of mechanistic explanandum phenomena. To make these functions salient, we relate our discussion to an exemplar from systems biological research on the mechanism for countering (...)
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  • Backing as Truthmaking.Alexios Stamatiadis-Bréhier - 2021 - Canadian Journal of Philosophy 51 (5):367–383.
    Separatists about grounding take explanations to be separate from their corresponding grounding-facts. Grounding-facts are supposed to underlie, or back, such explanations. However, the backing relation hasn’t received much attention in the literature. The aim of this paper is to provide an informative definition of backing. First, I examine two prominent proposals: backing as explaining (Kovacs 2017; 2019a) and backing as grounding (see Sjölin Wirling 2020). Finally, I put forward my own proposal. I argue that under plausible assumptions about the role (...)
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  • Explaining the Apocalypse: The End-Permian Mass Extinction and the Dynamics of Explanation in Geohistory.Max Dresow - 2021 - Synthese 199 (3-4):10441-10474.
    Explanation is a perennially hot topic in philosophy of science. Yet philosophers have exhibited a curious blind spot to the questions of how explanatory projects develop over time, as well as what processes are involved in generating their developmental trajectories. This paper examines these questions using research into the end-Permian mass extinction as a case study. It takes as its jumping-off point the observation that explanations of historical events tend to grow more complex over time, but it goes beyond this (...)
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  • Re-Re-Reconciling the Epistemic and Ontic Views of Explanation: A Reply to Wright and van Eck.Benjamin Sheredos - manuscript
    In a recent article published in Ergo and entitled "Ontic explanation is either ontic or explanatory, but not both," Cory Wright and Dingmar van Eck have sought to undermine any ontic approach to explanation, providing three arguments to show that an epistemic approach is "the only game in town." I show that each of their arguments is straightforwardly question-begging. For brevity, I make my counter-arguments by showing how the claims of Sheredos (2016)-whom Wright & van Eck cite as an ally-undermine (...)
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