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  1. Making things happen: a theory of causal explanation.James F. Woodward - 2003 - New York: Oxford University Press.
    Woodward's long awaited book is an attempt to construct a comprehensive account of causation explanation that applies to a wide variety of causal and explanatory claims in different areas of science and everyday life. The book engages some of the relevant literature from other disciplines, as Woodward weaves together examples, counterexamples, criticisms, defenses, objections, and replies into a convincing defense of the core of his theory, which is that we can analyze causation by appeal to the notion of manipulation.
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  • Unifying Scientific Theories.Margaret Morrison - 2001 - Mind 110 (440):1097-1102.
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  • The british journal for the philosophy of science.[author unknown] - 1956 - Dialectica 10 (1):94-95.
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  • Explanatory generalizations, part I: A counterfactual account.James Woodward & Christopher Hitchcock - 2003 - Noûs 37 (1):1–24.
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  • The psychology of scientific explanation.J. D. Trout - 2007 - Philosophy Compass 2 (3):564–591.
    Philosophers agree that scientific explanations aim to produce understanding, and that good ones succeed in this aim. But few seriously consider what understanding is, or what the cues are when we have it. If it is a psychological state or process, describing its specific nature is the job of psychological theorizing. This article examines the role of understanding in scientific explanation. It warns that the seductive, phenomenological sense of understanding is often, but mistakenly, viewed as a cue of genuine understanding. (...)
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  • No understanding without explanation.Michael Strevens - 2013 - Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part A 44 (3):510-515.
    Scientific understanding, this paper argues, can be analyzed entirely in terms of a mental act of “grasping” and a notion of explanation. To understand why a phenomenon occurs is to grasp a correct explanation of the phenomenon. To understand a scientific theory is to be able to construct, or at least to grasp, a range of potential explanations in which that theory accounts for other phenomena. There is no route to scientific understanding, then, that does not go by way of (...)
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  • A Contextual Approach to Scientific Understanding.Henk W. de Regt & Dennis Dieks - 2005 - Synthese 144 (1):137-170.
    Achieving understanding of nature is one of the aims of science. In this paper we offer an analysis of the nature of scientific understanding that accords with actual scientific practice and accommodates the historical diversity of conceptions of understanding. Its core idea is a general criterion for the intelligibility of scientific theories that is essentially contextual: which theories conform to this criterion depends on contextual factors, and can change in the course of time. Our analysis provides a general account of (...)
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  • Probability, explanation, and information.Peter Railton - 1981 - Synthese 48 (2):233 - 256.
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  • The diverse aims of science.Angela Potochnik - 2015 - Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part A 53:71-80.
    There is increasing attention to the centrality of idealization in science. One common view is that models and other idealized representations are important to science, but that they fall short in one or more ways. On this view, there must be an intermediary step between idealized representation and the traditional aims of science, including truth, explanation, and prediction. Here I develop an alternative interpretation of the relationship between idealized representation and the aims of science. In my view, continuing, widespread idealization (...)
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  • Idealization and the Aims of Science.Angela Potochnik - 2017 - Chicago: University of Chicago Press.
    Science is the study of our world, as it is in its messy reality. Nonetheless, science requires idealization to function—if we are to attempt to understand the world, we have to find ways to reduce its complexity. Idealization and the Aims of Science shows just how crucial idealization is to science and why it matters. Beginning with the acknowledgment of our status as limited human agents trying to make sense of an exceedingly complex world, Angela Potochnik moves on to explain (...)
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  • Causal patterns and adequate explanations.Angela Potochnik - 2015 - Philosophical Studies 172 (5):1163-1182.
    Causal accounts of scientific explanation are currently broadly accepted (though not universally so). My first task in this paper is to show that, even for a causal approach to explanation, significant features of explanatory practice are not determined by settling how causal facts bear on the phenomenon to be explained. I then develop a broadly causal approach to explanation that accounts for the additional features that I argue an explanation should have. This approach to explanation makes sense of several aspects (...)
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  • What Makes a Scientific Explanation Distinctively Mathematical?Marc Lange - 2013 - British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 64 (3):485-511.
    Certain scientific explanations of physical facts have recently been characterized as distinctively mathematical –that is, as mathematical in a different way from ordinary explanations that employ mathematics. This article identifies what it is that makes some scientific explanations distinctively mathematical and how such explanations work. These explanations are non-causal, but this does not mean that they fail to cite the explanandum’s causes, that they abstract away from detailed causal histories, or that they cite no natural laws. Rather, in these explanations, (...)
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  • What Are Mathematical Coincidences ?M. Lange - 2010 - Mind 119 (474):307-340.
    Although all mathematical truths are necessary, mathematicians take certain combinations of mathematical truths to be ‘coincidental’, ‘accidental’, or ‘fortuitous’. The notion of a ‘ mathematical coincidence’ has so far failed to receive sufficient attention from philosophers. I argue that a mathematical coincidence is not merely an unforeseen or surprising mathematical result, and that being a misleading combination of mathematical facts is neither necessary nor sufficient for qualifying as a mathematical coincidence. I argue that although the components of a mathematical coincidence (...)
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  • Precis of Because Without Cause: Non‐Causal Explanations in Science and Mathematics.Marc Lange - 2019 - Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 99 (3):714-719.
    Philosophy and Phenomenological Research, Volume 99, Issue 3, Page 714-719, November 2019.
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  • Aspects of Mathematical Explanation: Symmetry, Unity, and Salience.Marc Lange - 2014 - Philosophical Review 123 (4):485-531.
    Unlike explanation in science, explanation in mathematics has received relatively scant attention from philosophers. Whereas there are canonical examples of scientific explanations, there are few examples that have become widely accepted as exhibiting the distinction between mathematical proofs that explain why some mathematical theorem holds and proofs that merely prove that the theorem holds without revealing the reason why it holds. This essay offers some examples of proofs that mathematicians have considered explanatory, and it argues that these examples suggest a (...)
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  • Inaugurating Understanding or Repackaging Explanation?Kareem Khalifa - 2012 - Philosophy of Science 79 (1):15-37.
    Recently, several authors have argued that scientific understanding should be a new topic of philosophical research. In this article, I argue that the three most developed accounts of understanding--Grimm's, de Regt's, and de Regt and Dieks's--can be replaced by earlier accounts of scientific explanation without loss. Indeed, in some cases, such replacements have clear benefits.
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  • Understanding and Equivalent Reformulations.Josh Hunt - 2021 - Philosophy of Science 88 (5):810-823.
    Reformulating a scientific theory often leads to a significantly different way of understanding the world. Nevertheless, accounts of both theoretical equivalence and scientific understanding have neglected this important aspect of scientific theorizing. This essay provides a positive account of how reformulation changes our understanding. My account simultaneously addresses a serious challenge facing existing accounts of scientific understanding. These accounts have failed to characterize understanding in a way that goes beyond the epistemology of scientific explanation. By focusing on cases in which (...)
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  • Interpreting the Wigner–Eckart Theorem.Josh Hunt - 2021 - Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part A 87 (C):28-43.
    The Wigner--Eckart theorem is central to the application of symmetry principles throughout atomic, molecular, and nuclear physics. Nevertheless, the theorem has a puzzling feature: it is dispensable for solving problems within these domains, since elementary methods suffice. To account for the significance of the theorem, I first contrast it with an elementary approach to calculating matrix elements. Next, I consider three broad strategies for interpreting the theorem: conventionalism, fundamentalism, and conceptualism. I argue that the conventionalist framework is unnecessarily pragmatic, while (...)
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  • Expressivism about explanatory relevance.Josh Hunt - 2022 - Philosophical Studies:1-27.
    Accounts of scientific explanation disagree about what’s required for a cause, law, or other fact to be a reason why an event occurs. In short, they disagree about the conditions for explanatory relevance. Nonetheless, most accounts presuppose that claims about explanatory relevance play a descriptive role in tracking reality. By rejecting the need for this descriptivist assumption, I develop an expressivist account of explanatory relevance and explanation: to judge that an answer is explanatory is to express an attitude ofbeing for (...)
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  • Explanatory generalizations, part II: Plumbing explanatory depth.Christopher Hitchcock & James Woodward - 2003 - Noûs 37 (2):181–199.
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  • Understanding Why.Alison Hills - 2015 - Noûs 50 (4):661-688.
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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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  • Studies in the Logic of Explanation.Carl Hempel & Paul Oppenheim - 1948 - Journal of Symbolic Logic 14 (2):133-133.
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  • Aspects of scientific explanation.Carl G. Hempel - 1965 - In Carl Gustav Hempel (ed.), Aspects of Scientific Explanation and Other Essays in the Philosophy of Science. New York: The Free Press. pp. 504.
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  • The goal of explanation.Stephen R. Grimm - 2010 - Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part A 41 (4):337-344.
    I defend the claim that understanding is the goal of explanation against various persistent criticisms, especially the criticism that understanding is not truth-connected in the appropriate way, and hence is a merely psychological state. Part of the reason why understanding has been dismissed as the goal of explanation, I suggest, is because the psychological dimension of the goal of explanation has itself been almost entirely neglected. In turn, the psychological dimension of understanding—the Aha! experience, the sense that a certain explanation (...)
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  • Understanding, explanation, and unification.Victor Gijsbers - 2013 - Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part A 44 (3):516-522.
    In this article I argue that there are two different types of understanding: the understanding we get from explanations, and the understanding we get from unification. This claim is defended by first showing that explanation and unification are not as closely related as has sometimes been thought. A critical appraisal of recent proposals for understanding without explanation leads us to discuss the example of a purely classificatory biology: it turns out that such a science can give us understanding of the (...)
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  • Why unification is neither necessary nor sufficient for explanation.Victor Gijsbers - 2007 - Philosophy of Science 74 (4):481-500.
    In this paper, I argue that unification is neither necessary nor sufficient for explanation. Focusing on the versions of the unificationist theory of explanation of Kitcher and of Schurz and Lambert, I establish three theses. First, Kitcher’s criterion of unification is vitiated by the fact that it entails that every proposition can be explained by itself, a flaw that it is unable to overcome. Second, because neither Kitcher’s theory nor that of Schurz and Lambert can solve the problems of asymmetry (...)
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  • Understanding and the facts.Catherine Elgin - 2007 - Philosophical Studies 132 (1):33 - 42.
    If understanding is factive, the propositions that express an understanding are true. I argue that a factive conception of understanding is unduly restrictive. It neither reflects our practices in ascribing understanding nor does justice to contemporary science. For science uses idealizations and models that do not mirror the facts. Strictly speaking, they are false. By appeal to exemplification, I devise a more generous, flexible conception of understanding that accommodates science, reflects our practices, and shows a sufficient but not slavish sensitivity (...)
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  • True enough.Catherine Z. Elgin - 2004 - Philosophical Issues 14 (1):113–131.
    Truth is standardly considered a requirement on epistemic acceptability. But science and philosophy deploy models, idealizations and thought experiments that prescind from truth to achieve other cognitive ends. I argue that such felicitous falsehoods function as cognitively useful fictions. They are cognitively useful because they exemplify and afford epistemic access to features they share with the relevant facts. They are falsehoods in that they diverge from the facts. Nonetheless, they are true enough to serve their epistemic purposes. Theories that contain (...)
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  • Representing and Explaining: The Eikonic Conception of Scientific Explanation.Alisa Bokulich - 2018 - Philosophy of Science (5):793-805.
    The ontic conception of explanation, according to which explanations are "full-bodied things in the world," is fundamentally misguided. I argue instead for what I call the eikonic conception, according to which explanations are the product of an epistemic activity involving representations of the phenomena to be explained. What is explained in the first instance is a particular conceptualization of the explanandum phenomenon, contextualized within a given research program or explanatory project. I conclude that this eikonic conception has a number of (...)
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  • How scientific models can explain.Alisa Bokulich - 2011 - Synthese 180 (1):33 - 45.
    Scientific models invariably involve some degree of idealization, abstraction, or nationalization of their target system. Nonetheless, I argue that there are circumstances under which such false models can offer genuine scientific explanations. After reviewing three different proposals in the literature for how models can explain, I shall introduce a more general account of what I call model explanations, which specify the conditions under which models can be counted as explanatory. I shall illustrate this new framework by applying it to the (...)
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  • The goal of explanation.Stephen Bird - 2010 - Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part A 41 (4):337-344.
    I defend the claim that understanding is the goal of explanation against various persistent criticisms, especially the criticism that understanding is not truth-connected in the appropriate way, and hence is a merely psychological state. Part of the reason why understanding has been dismissed as the goal of explanation, I suggest, is because the psychological dimension of the goal of explanation has itself been almost entirely neglected. In turn, the psychological dimension of understanding—the Aha! experience, the sense that a certain explanation (...)
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  • Explanatory unification and the problem of asymmetry.Eric Barnes - 1992 - Philosophy of Science 59 (4):558-571.
    Philip Kitcher has proposed a theory of explanation based on the notion of unification. Despite the genuine interest and power of the theory, I argue here that the theory suffers from a fatal deficiency: It is intrinsically unable to account for the asymmetric structure of explanation, and thus ultimately falls prey to a problem similar to the one which beset Hempel's D-N model. I conclude that Kitcher is wrong to claim that one can settle the issue of an argument's explanatory (...)
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  • Recovering Understanding.Linda Zagzebski - 2001 - In M. Steup (ed.), Knowledge, Truth, and Duty: Essays on Epistemic Justification, Responsibility, and Virtue. Oxford University Press.
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  • Understanding Scientific Understanding.Henk W. de Regt - 2017 - New York: Oup Usa.
    Understanding is a central aim of science and highly important in present-day society. But what precisely is scientific understanding and how can it be achieved? This book answers these questions, through philosophical analysis and historical case studies, and presents a philosophical theory of scientific understanding that highlights its contextual nature.
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  • Aspects of scientific explanation.Carl G. Hempel - 1965 - New York,: Free Press.
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  • Introduction” to his.D. Lewis - 1986 - Philosophical Papers 2.
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  • True Enough.Catherine Z. Elgin - 2017 - Cambridge: MIT Press.
    Science relies on models and idealizations that are known not to be true. Even so, science is epistemically reputable. To accommodate science, epistemology should focus on understanding rather than knowledge and should recognize that the understanding of a topic need not be factive. This requires reconfiguring the norms of epistemic acceptability. If epistemology has the resources to accommodate science, it will also have the resources to show that art too advances understanding.
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  • .Peter Railton - 1985 - Rowman & Littlefield.
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  • Reasons Why.Bradford Skow - 2016 - Oxford, England and New York, NY, USA: Oxford University Press UK.
    This book first argues that what philosophers are really after, or at least should be after, when they seek a theory of explanation, is a theory of answers to why-questions. The book's main thesis, then, is a theory of reasons why. Every reason why some event happened is either a cause, or a ground, of that event. Challenging this thesis are many examples philosophers have thought they have found of "non-causal explanations." Reasons Why uses two ideas to show that these (...)
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  • Depth: An Account of Scientific Explanation.Michael Strevens - 2008 - Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press.
    Approaches to explanation -- Causal and explanatory relevance -- The kairetic account of /D making -- The kairetic account of explanation -- Extending the kairetic account -- Event explanation and causal claims -- Regularity explanation -- Abstraction in regularity explanation -- Approaches to probabilistic explanation -- Kairetic explanation of frequencies -- Kairetic explanation of single outcomes -- Looking outward -- Looking inward.
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  • Four Decades of Scientific Explanation.Wesley C. Salmon & Anne Fagot-Largeault - 1989 - History and Philosophy of the Life Sciences 16 (2):355.
    As Aristotle stated, scientific explanation is based on deductive argument--yet, Wesley C. Salmon points out, not all deductive arguments are qualified explanations. The validity of the explanation must itself be examined. _Four Decades of Scientific Explanation_ provides a comprehensive account of the developments in scientific explanation that transpired in the last four decades of the twentieth century. It continues to stand as the most comprehensive treatment of the writings on the subject during these years. Building on the historic 1948 essay (...)
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  • Causal explanation.David Lewis - 1986 - In Philosophical Papers Vol. Ii. Oxford University Press. pp. 214-240.
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  • Explanatory unification and the causal structure of the world.Philip Kitcher - 1989 - In Philip Kitcher & Wesley Salmon (eds.), Scientific Explanation. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press. pp. 410-505.
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  • The Ontic Account of Scientific Explanation.Carl F. Craver - 2014 - In Marie I. Kaiser, Oliver R. Scholz, Daniel Plenge & Andreas Hüttemann (eds.), Explanation in the Special Sciences: The Case of Biology and History. Springer Verlag. pp. 27-52.
    According to one large family of views, scientific explanations explain a phenomenon (such as an event or a regularity) by subsuming it under a general representation, model, prototype, or schema (see Bechtel, W., & Abrahamsen, A. (2005). Explanation: A mechanist alternative. Studies in History and Philosophy of Biological and Biomedical Sciences, 36(2), 421–441; Churchland, P. M. (1989). A neurocomputational perspective: The nature of mind and the structure of science. Cambridge: MIT Press; Darden (2006); Hempel, C. G. (1965). Aspects of scientific (...)
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  • Focusing on scientific understanding.Henk W. de Regt, Sabina Leonelli & K. Eigner - 2009 - In Henk De Regt, Sabina Leonelli & Kai Eigner (eds.), Scientific Understanding: Philosophical Perspectives. University of Pittsburgh Press.
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  • The Euclidean Diagram.Kenneth Manders - 2008 - In Paolo Mancosu (ed.), The Philosophy of Mathematical Practice. Oxford University Press. pp. 80--133.
    This chapter gives a detailed study of diagram-based reasoning in Euclidean plane geometry (Books I, III), as well as an exploration how to characterise a geometric practice. First, an account is given of diagram attribution: basic geometrical claims are classified as exact (equalities, proportionalities) or co-exact (containments, contiguities); exact claims may only be inferred from prior entries in the demonstration text, but co-exact claims may be asserted based on what is seen in the diagram. Diagram control by constructions is necessary (...)
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  • Scientific Explanation.P. Kitcher & W. C. Salmon - 1992 - British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 43 (1):85-98.
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  • Intelligibility and Scientific Understanding.Henk de Regt - 2009 - In Henk De Regt, Sabina Leonelli & Kai Eigner (eds.), Scientific Understanding: Philosophical Perspectives. University of Pittsburgh Press.
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  • Explanatory Models Versus Predictive Models: Reduced Complexity Modeling in Geomorphology.Alisa Bokulich - 2013 - In Vassilios Karakostas & Dennis Dieks (eds.), Epsa11 Perspectives and Foundational Problems in Philosophy of Science. Springer. pp. 115--128.
    Although predictive power and explanatory insight are both desiderata of scientific models, these features are often in tension with each other and cannot be simultaneously maximized. In such situations, scientists may adopt what I term a ‘division of cognitive labor’ among models, using different models for the purposes of explanation and prediction, respectively, even for the exact same phenomenon being investigated. Adopting this strategy raises a number of issues, however, which have received inadequate philosophical attention. More specifically, while one implication (...)
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