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Introduction: Points of Contact between Biology and History

In Marie I. Kaiser, Oliver R. Scholz, Daniel Plenge & Andreas Hüttemann (eds.), Explanation in the special science: The case of biology and history. Dordrecht: Springer. pp. 1-23 (2014)

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  1. Analytical Philosophy of History.Arthur C. Danto - 1965 - Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
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  • The Open Society and its Enemies.Karl R. Popper - 1952 - Revue Philosophique de la France Et de l'Etranger 142:629-634.
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  • The Open Society and Its Enemies.K. R. Popper - 1946 - Philosophy 21 (80):271-276.
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  • A Realist Philosophy of Social Science: Explanation and Understanding.Peter T. Manicas - 2006 - New York: Cambridge University Press.
    This introduction to the philosophy of social science provides an original conception of the task and nature of social inquiry. Peter Manicas discusses the role of causality seen in the physical sciences and offers a reassessment of the problem of explanation from a realist perspective. He argues that the fundamental goal of theory in both the natural and social sciences is not, contrary to widespread opinion, prediction and control, or the explanation of events. Instead, theory aims to provide an understanding (...)
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  • Our Knowledge of the Past: A Philosophy of Historiography.Aviezer Tucker - 2004 - New York: Cambridge University Press.
    How do historians, comparative linguists, biblical and textual critics and evolutionary biologists establish beliefs about the past? How do they know the past? This book presents a philosophical analysis of the disciplines that offer scientific knowledge of the past. Using the analytic tools of contemporary epistemology and philosophy of science the book covers such topics as evidence, theory, methodology, explanation, determination and underdetermination, coincidence, contingency and counterfactuals in historiography. Aviezer Tucker's central claim is that historiography as a scientific discipline should (...)
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  • Historical Judgement: The Limits of Historiographical Choice.Jonathan L. Gorman - 2007 - Mcgill-Queen's University Press.
    The historical profession is not noted for examining its own methodologies. Indeed, most historians are averse to historical theory. In "Historical Judgement" Jonathan Gorman's response to this state of affairs is to argue that if we want to characterize a discipline, we need to look to persons who successfully occupy the role of being practitioners of that discipline. So to model historiography we must do so from the views of historians. Gorman begins by showing what it is to model a (...)
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  • Reconstructing The Past: Parsimony, Evolution, and Inference.Elliott Sober - 1988 - MIT Press.
    Reconstructing the Past seeks to clarify and help resolve the vexing methodological issues that arise when biologists try to answer such questions as whether human beings are more closely related to chimps than they are to gorillas. It explores the case for considering the philosophical idea of simplicity/parsimony as a useful principle for evaluating taxonomic theories of evolutionary relationships. For the past two decades, evolutionists have been vigorously debating the appropriate methods that should be used in systematics, the field that (...)
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  • Explanation in Social History.Christopher Lloyd - 1986 - Wiley-Blackwell.
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  • The Growth of Biological Thought: Diversity, Evolution, and Inheritance. [REVIEW]Ernst Mayr - 1985 - Journal of the History of Biology 18 (1):145-153.
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  • Discovering Cell Mechanisms: The Creation of Modern Cell Biology.William Bechtel - 2007 - Journal of the History of Biology 40 (1):185-187.
    Between 1940 and 1970 pioneers in the new field of cell biology discovered the operative parts of cells and their contributions to cell life. They offered mechanistic accounts that explained cellular phenomena by identifying the relevant parts of cells, the biochemical operations they performed, and the way in which these parts and operations were organised to accomplish important functions. Cell biology was a revolutionary science but in this book it also provides fuel for yet another revolution, one that focuses on (...)
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  • History as Narrative.A. R. Louch - 1969 - History and Theory 8 (1):54-70.
    Narrative as it is used by historians is not merely an incidental, stylistic feature of the historian's craft, but essential to historical explanation. Narrative presupposes a world of things that endure through change. Stories fill in the gaps in our experience and thus make continuity visible. Ideally, narrative stands proxy for experience, though this ideal can never be attained. No criterion can be formulated that will signify when a story is complete enough. The changing perspective of the historian and the (...)
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  • Verstehen: The Uses of Understanding in Social Science.Michael Martin - 2000 - Routledge.
    Originating in 19th-century Germany, "verstehen" (literally understanding) theory argues that social phenomena must be understood from the point of view of the social actor. This work appraises "verstehen" as a method of verification and discovery as well as a necessary condition for understanding.
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  • The Open Society and its Enemies: Volume Ii: The High Tide of Prophecy: Hegel, Marx and the Aftermath.Karl Popper - 1968 - Routledge.
    Bertrand Russell described this study, with its companion volume on Plato, as a work of first-class importance. Karl Popper writes with extreme clarity and vigour. Platonic history will never be the same again.
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  • Explaining the Brain.Carl F. Craver - 2007 - Oxford, GB: Oxford University Press.
    Carl F. Craver investigates what we are doing when we use neuroscience to explain what's going on in the brain. When does an explanation succeed and when does it fail? Craver offers explicit standards for successful explanation of the workings of the brain, on the basis of a systematic view about what neuroscientific explanations are.
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  • What is a mechanism? Thinking about mechanisms across the sciences.Phyllis Illari & Jon Williamson - 2012 - European Journal for Philosophy of Science 2 (1):119-135.
    After a decade of intense debate about mechanisms, there is still no consensus characterization. In this paper we argue for a characterization that applies widely to mechanisms across the sciences. We examine and defend our disagreements with the major current contenders for characterizations of mechanisms. Ultimately, we indicate that the major contenders can all sign up to our characterization.
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  • The Spandrels of San Marco and the Panglossian Paradigm: A Critique of the Adaptationist Programme.S. J. Gould & R. C. Lewontin - 1994 - In Elliott Sober (ed.), Conceptual Issues in Evolutionary Biology. The Mit Press. Bradford Books. pp. 73-90.
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  • Function and organization: comparing the mechanisms of protein synthesis and natural selection.Phyllis McKay Illari & Jon Williamson - 2010 - Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part C: Studies in History and Philosophy of Biological and Biomedical Sciences 41 (3):279-291.
    In this paper, we compare the mechanisms of protein synthesis and natural selection. We identify three core elements of mechanistic explanation: functional individuation, hierarchical nestedness or decomposition, and organization. These are now well understood elements of mechanistic explanation in fields such as protein synthesis, and widely accepted in the mechanisms literature. But Skipper and Millstein have argued that natural selection is neither decomposable nor organized. This would mean that much of the current mechanisms literature does not apply to the mechanism (...)
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  • Philosophy and the historical understanding.W. B. Gallie - 1964 - New York,: Schocken Books.
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  • The history and narrative reader.Geoffrey Roberts (ed.) - 2001 - New York: Routledge.
    Are historians storytellers? Is it possible to tell true stories about the past? These are just a couple of the questions raised in this comprehensive collection of texts about philosophy, theory, and methodology of writing history. Drawing together seminal texts from philosophers and historians, this volume presents the great debate over the narrative character of history from the 1960s onwards. The History and Narrative Reader combines theory with practice to offer a unique overview of this debate and illuminates the practical (...)
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  • The possibility of naturalism: a philosophical critique of the contemporary human sciences.Roy Bhaskar - 1979 - New York: Routledge.
    Since its original publication in 1979, The Possibility of Naturalism has been one of the most influential works in contemporary philosophy of science and social science. It is a cornerstone of the critical realist position, which is now widely seen as offering a viable alternative to move positivism and postmodernism. This revised edition includes a new foreword.
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  • The truth of history.C. Behan McCullagh - 1998 - New York: Routledge.
    The Truth of History questions how modern historians, confined by the concepts of their own cultures, can still discover truths about the past. Through an examination of the constraints of history, accounts of causation and causal interpretations, C. Behan McCullagh argues that although historical descriptions do not mirror the past, they can correlate with it in a regular and definable way. Far from debating only in the abstract and philosophical, the author constructs his argument in numerous concrete historical examples and (...)
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  • Explaining the brain: mechanisms and the mosaic unity of neuroscience.Carl F. Craver - 2007 - New York : Oxford University Press,: Oxford University Press, Clarendon Press.
    Carl Craver investigates what we are doing when we sue neuroscience to explain what's going on in the brain.
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  • The idea of history.Robin George Collingwood - 1962 - New York: Oxford University Press. Edited by der Dussen & J. W..
    The Idea of History is the best-known book of the great Oxford philosopher, historian, and archaeologist R.G. Collingwood. It was originally published posthumously in 1946, having been mainly reconstructed from Collingwood's manuscripts, many of which are now lost. For this revised edition, Collingwood's most important lectures on the philosophy of history are published here for the first time. These texts have been prepared by Jan van der Dussen from manuscripts that have only recently become available. The lectures contain Collingwood's first (...)
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  • Re-thinking history.Keith Jenkins - 1991 - New York: Routledge.
    This introductory text is written for students faced with the question "what is history?
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  • Social boundary mechanisms.Charles Tilly - 2004 - Philosophy of the Social Sciences 34 (2):211-236.
    Social boundaries separate us fromthem. Explaining the formation, transformation, activation, and suppression of social boundaries presents knotty problems. It helps to distinguish two sets of mechanisms: (1) those that precipitate boundary change and (2) those that constitute boundary change. Properly speaking, only the constitutive mechanisms produce the effects of boundary change as such. Precipitants of boundary change include encounter, imposition, borrowing, conversation, and incentive shift. Constitutive mechanisms include inscription–erasure, activation–deactivation, site transfer, and relocation. Effects of boundary change include attack–defense sequences. (...)
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  • Mechanism and explanation.Mario Bunge - 1997 - Philosophy of the Social Sciences 27 (4):410-465.
    The aim of this article is to elucidate the notions of explanation and mechanism, in particular of the social kind. A mechanism is defined as what makes a concrete system tick, and it is argued that to propose an explanation proper is to exhibit a lawful mechanism. The so-called covering law model is shown to exhibit only the logical aspect of explanation: it just subsumes particulars under universals. A full or mechanismic explanation involves mechanismic law statements, not purely descriptive ones (...)
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  • Thinking about evolutionary mechanisms: Natural selection.Robert Skipper & Roberta Millstein - 2004 - Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part C: Studies in History and Philosophy of Biological and Biomedical Sciences 36 (2):327-347.
    This paper explores whether natural selection, a putative evolutionary mechanism, and a main one at that, can be characterized on either of the two dominant conceptions of mechanism, due to Glennan and the team of Machamer, Darden, and Craver, that constitute the “new mechanistic philosophy.” The results of the analysis are that neither of the dominant conceptions of mechanism adequately captures natural selection. Nevertheless, the new mechanistic philosophy possesses the resources for an understanding of natural selection under the rubric.
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  • How is biological explanation possible?Alex Rosenberg - 2001 - British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 52 (4):735-760.
    That biology provides explanations is not open to doubt. But how it does so must be a vexed question for those who deny that biology embodies laws or other generalizations with the sort of explanatory force that the philosophy of science recognizes. The most common response to this problem has involved redefining law so that those grammatically general statements which biologists invoke in explanations can be counted as laws. But this terminological innovation cannot identify the source of biology's explanatory power. (...)
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  • Mechanisms and the nature of causation.Stuart S. Glennan - 1996 - Erkenntnis 44 (1):49--71.
    In this paper I offer an analysis of causation based upon a theory of mechanisms-complex systems whose internal parts interact to produce a system's external behavior. I argue that all but the fundamental laws of physics can be explained by reference to mechanisms. Mechanisms provide an epistemologically unproblematic way to explain the necessity which is often taken to distinguish laws from other generalizations. This account of necessity leads to a theory of causation according to which events are causally related when (...)
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  • The function of general laws in history.Carl Gustav Hempel - 1942 - Journal of Philosophy 39 (2):35-48.
    The classic logical positivist account of historical explanation, putting forward what is variously called the "regularity interpretation" (#Gardiner, The Nature of Historical Explanation), the "covering law model" (#Dray, Laws and Explanation in History), or the "deductive model" (Michael #Scriven, "Truisms as Grounds for Historical Explanations"). See also #Danto, Narration and Knowledge, for further criticisms of the model. Hempel formalizes historical explanation as involving (a) statements of determining (initial and boundary) conditions for the event to be explained, and (b) statements of (...)
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  • Methodological and epistemic differences between historical science and experimental science.Carol E. Cleland - 2002 - Philosophy of Science 69 (3):447-451.
    Experimental research is commonly held up as the paradigm of "good" science. Although experiment plays many roles in science, its classical role is testing hypotheses in controlled laboratory settings. Historical science is sometimes held to be inferior on the grounds that its hypothesis cannot be tested by controlled laboratory experiments. Using contemporary examples from diverse scientific disciplines, this paper explores differences in practice between historical and experimental research vis-à-vis the testing of hypotheses. It rejects the claim that historical research is (...)
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  • Thinking about mechanisms.Peter Machamer, Lindley Darden & Carl F. Craver - 2000 - Philosophy of Science 67 (1):1-25.
    The concept of mechanism is analyzed in terms of entities and activities, organized such that they are productive of regular changes. Examples show how mechanisms work in neurobiology and molecular biology. Thinking in terms of mechanisms provides a new framework for addressing many traditional philosophical issues: causality, laws, explanation, reduction, and scientific change.
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  • Reconstructing the Past. [REVIEW]Peter Godfrey-Smith - 1993 - Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 53 (2):487-490.
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  • Analytical Philosophy of History.Arthur C. Danto - 1965 - Foundations of Language 4 (2):188-191.
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  • The Idea of History.R. G. Collingwood - 1946 - Les Etudes Philosophiques 17 (2):252-253.
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  • Analytical Philosophy of History. [REVIEW]Michael Scriven - 1966 - Journal of Philosophy 63 (17):500-504.
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  • The Idea of History. [REVIEW]Maurice Mandelbaum - 1947 - Journal of Philosophy 44 (7):184-188.
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  • Explanatory Narrative in History.William H. Dray - 1950 - S.N.
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  • Philosophy and the Historical Understanding.W. B. Gallie - 1965 - British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 16 (61):53-57.
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  • Analytical Philosophy of History.Arthur C. Danto - 1966 - British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 17 (4):328-331.
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  • The Possibility of Naturalism: A Philosophical Critique of the Contemporary Human Sciences.G. N. Cantor - 1982 - Philosophical Quarterly 32 (128):280-281.
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  • Analytical Philosophy of History.L. Jonathan Cohen - 1967 - Philosophical Quarterly 17 (67):181-183.
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  • Philosophy and the Historical Understanding.Louis Arnaud Reid - 1964 - British Journal of Educational Studies 13 (1):90.
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  • Historical Judgement: The Limits of Historiographical Choice.Jonathan L. Gorman - 2007 - Routledge.
    The historical profession is not noted for examining its own methodologies. Indeed, most historians are averse to historical theory. In "Historical Judgement" Jonathan Gorman's response to this state of affairs is to argue that if we want to characterize a discipline, we need to look to persons who successfully occupy the role of being practitioners of that discipline. So to model historiography we must do so from the views of historians. Gorman begins by showing what it is to model a (...)
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  • Philosophy of the Social Sciences I a Metascientific Introduction.J. O. Wisdom - 1987
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  • Methodology of History.Jerzy Topolski - 1977 - Tijdschrift Voor Filosofie 39 (4):720-720.
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  • The Autonomy of Historical Understanding.Louis O. Mink - 1966 - History and Theory 5 (1):24-47.
    On received philosophical doctrine, history is simply methodologically immature. History's autonomy can be established not by showing scientific explanations impossible for "history," but by coupling a demonstration that hypothetico-deductive explanation cannot exhaustively analyze historical knowledge with a critique of the proto-science view's assumption that legitimate modes of understanding must be analyzable by an explicit methodology. Certain views historians accept, e.g., that events are unique, while inadequate as a general theory of events, reveal historical understanding's distinctive feature: synoptic judgment, which, irreducible (...)
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  • Central Subjects and Historical Narratives.David L. Hull - 1975 - History and Theory 14 (3):253-274.
    A central subject is the main strand around which the fabric of an historical narrative is woven. Such a subject must possess both spatial and temporal continuity. It is integrated into an historical entity through the relationship between those properties which make it an individual, and their interaction with the historical event. Scientific theory is useful in the reconstruction of past events and the definition of the central subject. Ideas used as central subjects present the problem of finding internal principles (...)
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  • Historical Explanation: The Problem of 'Covering Laws'.Maurice Mandelbaum - 1961 - History and Theory 1 (3):229-242.
    Laws through which we explain particular events need not be laws which describe uniform sequences of events; they may be laws stating uniform connections between two types of factor contained within a complex event. Hempel's apparent insistence that laws state the conditions invariably accompanying a type of complex event, that the event be an instance of the laws "covering" it, results from the Humean analysis in which causation obtains between types of events and "the cause" means necessary conditions. But historians (...)
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  • The Logic of Historical Explanation.Clayton Roberts - 1995 - Pennsylvania State University Press.
    Ever since 1942, when Carl Hempel declared that historical events are explained by subsuming them under laws governing the occurrence of similar events, philosophers have debated the validity of explanations based on "covering laws." In _The Logic of Historical Explanation_, Clayton Roberts provides a key to understanding the role of covering laws in historical explanation. He does so by distinguishing between their use at the macro- and micro- levels, a distinction that no other scholar has made. Roberts contends that the (...)
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