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Explanatory Indispensability Arguments in Metaethics and Philosophy of Mathematics

In Uri D. Leibowitz & Neil Sinclair (eds.), Explanation in Ethics and Mathematics: Debunking and Dispensability. Oxford University Press (2016)

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  1. Inference to the Best Explanation.Peter Lipton - 1991 - London and New York: Routledge.
    "How do we go about weighing evidence, testing hypotheses and making inferences? According to the model of 'inference to the Best explanation', we work out what to inter from the evidence by thinking about what would actually explain that evidence, and we take the ability of a hypothesis to explain the evidence as a sign that the hypothesis is correct. In inference to the Best Explanation, Peter Lipton gives this important and influential idea the development and assessment it deserves." "The (...)
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  • Relax? Don’T Do It! Why Moral Realism Won't Come Cheap.Sarah McGrath - 2014 - Oxford Studies in Metaethics 9.
    Relaxed realists hold that there are deep differences between moral truths and the truths studied by the empirical sciences, but they deny that these differences raise troubling metaphysical or epistemological questions about moral truths. On this view, although features such as causal inefficacy, perceptual inaccessibility, and failure to figure in the best explanations of our empirical beliefs would raise pressing skeptical concerns were they claimed to characterize some aspect of physical reality, the same is not true when it comes to (...)
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  • Metaphysical Dependence: Grounding and Reduction.Gideon Rosen - 2010 - In Bob Hale & Aviv Hoffmann (eds.), Modality: Metaphysics, Logic, and Epistemology. Oxford University Press. pp. 109-36.
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  • Justice for Hedgehogs.Ronald Dworkin - 2011 - Belknap Press of Harvard University Press.
    Baedeker -- Independence. Truth in morals -- External skepticism -- Morals and causes -- Internal skepticism -- Interpretation. Moral responsibility -- Interpretation in general -- Conceptual interpretation -- Ethics. Dignity -- Free will and responsibility -- Morality. From dignity to morality -- Aid -- Harm -- Obligations -- Politics. Political rights and concepts -- Equality -- Liberty -- Democracy -- Law -- Epilogue. Dignity indivisible.
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  • Taking Morality Seriously: A Defense of Robust Realism.David Enoch - 2011 - Oxford University Press UK.
    David Enoch develops, argues for, and defends a strongly realist and objectivist view of ethics and normativity more broadly. This view--according to which there are perfectly objective, universal, moral and other normative truths that are not in any way reducible to other, natural truths--is familiar, but this book is the first in-detail development of the positive motivations for the view into reasonably precise arguments. And when the book turns to defend Robust Realism against traditional objections, it mobilizes the original positive (...)
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  • Making Things Happen: A Theory of Causal Explanation.James Woodward - 2003 - 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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  • Inference to the Best Explanation.Peter Lipton - 1991 - London and New York: Routledge/Taylor and Francis Group.
    How do we go about weighing evidence, testing hypotheses, and making inferences? The model of " inference to the best explanation " -- that we infer the hypothesis that would, if correct, provide the best explanation of the available evidence--offers a compelling account of inferences both in science and in ordinary life. Widely cited by epistemologists and philosophers of science, IBE has nonetheless remained little more than a slogan. Now this influential work has been thoroughly revised and updated, and features (...)
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  • Inference to the Best Explanation.Peter Lipton - 1991 - London and New York: Routledge.
    How do we go about weighing evidence, testing hypotheses, and making inferences? According to the model of _Inference to the Best Explanation_, we work out what to infer from the evidence by thinking about what would actually explain that evidence, and we take the ability of a hypothesis to explain the evidence as a sign that the hypothesis is correct. In _Inference to the Best Explanation_, Peter Lipton gives this important and influential idea the development and assessment it deserves. The (...)
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  • Mathematics and Reality.Mary Leng (ed.) - 2010 - Oxford, England: Oxford University Press.
    Mary Leng defends a philosophical account of the nature of mathematics which views it as a kind of fiction. On this view, the claims of our ordinary mathematical theories are more closely analogous to utterances made in the context of storytelling than to utterances whose aim is to assert literal truths.
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  • A Subject with No Object: Strategies for Nominalistic Interpretation of Mathematics.John P. Burgess & Gideon Rosen - 1997 - Oxford, England: Oxford University Press.
    Numbers and other mathematical objects are exceptional in having no locations in space or time or relations of cause and effect. This makes it difficult to account for the possibility of the knowledge of such objects, leading many philosophers to embrace nominalism, the doctrine that there are no such objects, and to embark on ambitious projects for interpreting mathematics so as to preserve the subject while eliminating its objects. This book cuts through a host of technicalities that have obscured previous (...)
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  • Deflating Existential Consequence: A Case for Nominalism.Jody Azzouni - 2004 - Oxford, England: Oup Usa.
    If we must take mathematical statements to be true, must we also believe in the existence of abstract eternal invisible mathematical objects accessible only by the power of pure thought? Jody Azzouni says no, and he claims that the way to escape such commitments is to accept true statements which are about objects that don't exist in any sense at all. Azzouni illustrates what the metaphysical landscape looks like once we avoid a militant Realism which forces our commitment to anything (...)
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  • On What Matters: Two-Volume Set.Derek Parfit - 2011 - Oxford University Press.
    This is a major work in moral philosophy, the long-awaited follow-up to Parfit's 1984 classic Reasons and Persons, a landmark of twentieth-century philosophy. Parfit now presents a powerful new treatment of reasons and a critical examination of the most prominent systematic moral theories, leading to his own ground-breaking conclusion.
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  • There is No Easy Road to Nominalism.M. Colyvan - 2010 - Mind 119 (474):285-306.
    Hartry Field has shown us a way to be nominalists: we must purge our scientific theories of quantification over abstracta and we must prove the appropriate conservativeness results. This is not a path for the faint hearted. Indeed, the substantial technical difficulties facing Field's project have led some to explore other, easier options. Recently, Jody Azzouni, Joseph Melia, and Stephen Yablo have argued that it is a mistake to read our ontological commitments simply from what the quantifiers of our best (...)
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  • The Explanationist Argument for Moral Realism.Neil Sinclair - 2011 - Canadian Journal of Philosophy 41 (1):1-24.
    In this paper I argue that the explanationist argument in favour of moral realism fails. According to this argument, the ability of putative moral properties to feature in good explanations provides strong evidence for, or entails, the metaphysical claims of moral realism. Some have rejected this argument by denying that moral explanations are ever good explanations. My criticism is different. I argue that even if we accept that moral explanations are (sometimes) good explanations the metaphysical claims of realism do not (...)
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  • Moral Explanation and the Special Sciences.Brad Majors - 2003 - Philosophical Studies 113 (2):121 - 152.
    Discussion of moral explanation has reached animpasse, with proponents of contemporaryethical naturalism upholding the explanatoryintegrity of moral facts and properties, andopponents – including both anti-realists andnon-naturalistic realists – insisting thatsuch robustly explanatory pretensions as moraltheory has be explained away. I propose thatthe key to solving the problem lies in thequestion whether instances of moral propertiesare causally efficacious. It is argued that,given the truth of contemporary ethicalnaturalism, moral properties are causallyefficacious if the properties of the specialsciences are. Certain objections are rebuttedinvolving (...)
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  • Are There Genuine Mathematical Explanations of Physical Phenomena?Alan Baker - 2005 - Mind 114 (454):223-238.
    Many explanations in science make use of mathematics. But are there cases where the mathematical component of a scientific explanation is explanatory in its own right? This issue of mathematical explanations in science has been for the most part neglected. I argue that there are genuine mathematical explanations in science, and present in some detail an example of such an explanation, taken from evolutionary biology, involving periodical cicadas. I also indicate how the answer to my title question impacts on broader (...)
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  • Responses to Critics. [REVIEW]Gilbert Harman - 1998 - Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 58 (1):207-213.
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  • Moral Explanation and Moral ObjectivityMoral Relativism and Moral Objectivity.Peter Railton, Gilbert Harman & Judith Jarvis Thomson - 1998 - Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 58 (1):175.
    What is the real issue at stake in discussions of "moral explanation"? There isn't one; there are many. The standing of purported moral properties and problems about our epistemic or semantic access to them are of concern both from within and without moral practice. An account of their potential contribution to explaining our values, beliefs, conduct, practices, etc. can help in these respects. By examining some claims made about moral explanation in Judith Thompson's and Gilbert Harman's Moral Relativism and Moral (...)
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  • Making Things Happen. A Theory of Causal Explanation.Michael Strevens - 2007 - Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 74 (1):233-249.
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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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  • Being Realistic About Reasons.T. M. Scanlon - 2014 - Oxford University Press.
    It is often claimed that irreducibly normative truths would have unacceptable metaphysical implications, and are incompatible with a scientific view of the world. The book argues, on the basis of a general account of the relevance of ontological questions, that this claim is mistaken. It is also a mistake to think that interpreting normative judgments as beliefs would make it impossible to explain their connection with action. An agent’s acceptance of a normative judgment can explain that agent’s subsequent action because (...)
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  • Harman on Moral Explanations of Natural Facts.Nicholas L. Sturgeon - 1986 - Southern Journal of Philosophy 24 (S1):69-78.
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  • From Metaphysics to Ethics: A Defence of Conceptual Analysis.Frank Jackson - 1998 - Oxford University Press.
    Frank Jackson champions the cause of conceptual analysis as central to philosophical inquiry. In recent years conceptual analysis has been undervalued and widely misunderstood, suggests Jackson. He argues that such analysis is mistakenly clouded in mystery, preventing a whole range of important questions from being productively addressed. He anchors his argument in discussions of specific philosophical issues, starting with the metaphysical doctrine of physicalism and moving on, via free will, meaning, personal identity, motion, and change, to ethics and the philosophy (...)
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  • Moral Explanations.Nicholas Sturgeon - 1985 - In James Rachels (ed.), Ethical Theory 1: The Question of Objectivity. Oxford University Press.
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  • The Nature of Normativity.Ralph Wedgwood - 2007 - Oxford University Press.
    This is a book about normativity -- where the central normative terms are words like 'ought' and 'should' and their equivalents in other languages. It has three parts: The first part is about the semantics of normative discourse: what it means to talk about what ought to be the case. The second part is about the metaphysics of normative properties and relations: what is the nature of those properties and relations whose pattern of instantiation makes propositions about what ought to (...)
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  • Depth: An Account of Scientific Explanation.Michael Strevens - 2008 - 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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  • Discussion on the Importance of Making Things Right.Jonathan Dancy - unknown
    Critical notice of 'From metaphysics to ethics' by Frank Jackson.
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  • Does Ontology Rest on a Mistake?Stephen Yablo - 1998 - Aristotelian Society Supplementary Volume 72 (1):229 - 283.
    [Stephen Yablo] The usual charge against Carnap's internal/external distinction is one of 'guilt by association with analytic/synthetic'. But it can be freed of this association, to become the distinction between statements made within make-believe games and those made outside them-or, rather, a special case of it with some claim to be called the metaphorical/literal distinction. Not even Quine considers figurative speech committal, so this turns the tables somewhat. To determine our ontological commitments, we have to ferret out all traces of (...)
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  • Moral Explanation.Brad Majors - 2007 - Philosophy Compass 2 (1):1–15.
    Discussion of moral explanation has reached an impasse, with proponents of contemporary ethical naturalism upholding the explanatory integrity of moral facts and properties, and opponents--including both antirealists and non-naturalistic realists--insisting that such robustly explanatory pretensions as moral theory has be explained away. I propose that the key to solving the problem lies in the question whether instances of moral properties are causally efficacious. It is argued that, given the truth of contemporary ethical naturalism, moral properties are causally efficacious if the (...)
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  • Program Explanation: A General Perspective.Frank Jackson & Philip Pettit - 1990 - Analysis 50 (2):107-17.
    Some properties are causally relevant for a certain effect, others are not. In this paper we describe a problem for our understanding of this notion and then offer a solution in terms of the notion of a program explanation.
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  • Moral Realism and Program Explanation.Mark T. Nelson - 2006 - Australasian Journal of Philosophy 84 (3):417 – 428.
    Alexander Miller has recently considered an ingenious extension of Frank Jackson and Philip Pettit's account of 'program explanation' as a way of defending non-reductive naturalist versions of moral realism against Harman's explanatory criticism. Despite the ingenuity of this extension, Miller concludes that program explanation cannot help such moral realists in their attempt to defend moral properties. Specifically, he argues that such moral program explanations are dispensable from an epistemically unlimited point of view. I show that Miller's argument for this negative (...)
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  • Moral Realism and the Foundations of Ethics.Harry S. Silverstein - 1994 - Noûs 28 (1):122-127.
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  • Moral Realism and the Foundations of Ethics.David O. BRINK - 1989 - Ethics 101 (3):610-624.
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  • Moral Relativism and Moral Objectivity.Gilbert Harman & Judith Jarvis Thomson - 1996 - Zeitschrift für Philosophische Forschung 50 (4):654-658.
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  • The Nature of Morality.D. Z. Phillips & Gilbert Harman - 1978 - Philosophical Quarterly 28 (110):89.
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  • Are There Non-Causal Explanations (of Particular Events)?Brdford Skow - 2013 - British Journal for the Philosophy of Science (3):axs047.
    Philosophers have proposed many alleged examples of non-causal explanations of particular events. I discuss several well-known examples and argue that they fail to be non-causal. 1 Questions2 Preliminaries3 Explanations That Cite Causally Inert Entities4 Explanations That Merely Cite Laws I5 Stellar Collapse6 Explanations That Merely Cite Laws II7 A Final Example8 Conclusion.
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  • Ethical Particularism and Patterns.Frank Jackson, Philip Pettit & Michael Smith - 2000 - In Brad Hooker & Margaret Olivia Little (eds.), Moral Particularism. Oxford University Press. pp. 79--99.
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  • Non-Cognitivism and Rule-Following.John McDowell - 1981 - In S. Holtzman & Christopher M. Leich (eds.), Wittgenstein: To Follow A Rule. Routledge. pp. 141--62.
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  • Weaseling Away the Indispensability Argument.J. Melia - 2000 - Mind 109 (435):455-480.
    According to the indispensability argument, the fact that we quantify over numbers, sets and functions in our best scientific theories gives us reason for believing that such objects exist. I examine a strategy to dispense with such quantification by simply replacing any given platonistic theory by the set of sentences in the nominalist vocabulary it logically entails. I argue that, as a strategy, this response fails: for there is no guarantee that the nominalist world that go beyond the set of (...)
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  • Does Ontology Rest on a Mistake?Stephen Yablo & Andre Gallois - 1998 - Proceedings of the Aristotelian Society, Supplementary Volumes( 72:229-283.
    [Stephen Yablo] The usual charge against Carnap's internal/external distinction is one of 'guilt by association with analytic/synthetic'. But it can be freed of this association, to become the distinction between statements made within make-believe games and those made outside them-or, rather, a special case of it with some claim to be called the metaphorical/literal distinction. Not even Quine considers figurative speech committal, so this turns the tables somewhat. To determine our ontological commitments, we have to ferret out all traces of (...)
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  • A Tale of Two Vectors.Marc Lange - 2009 - Dialectica 63 (4):397-431.
    Why do forces compose according to the parallelogram of forces? This question has been controversial; it is one episode in a longstanding, fundamental dispute regarding which facts are not to be explained dynamically. If the parallelogram law is explained statically, then the laws of statics are separate from and “transcend” the laws of dynamics. Alternatively, if the parallelogram law is explained dynamically, then statical laws become mere corollaries to the dynamical laws. I shall attempt to trace the history of this (...)
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  • The Nature of Normativity.Chris Alen Sula - 2007 - Ethical Theory and Moral Practice 11 (2):227-228.
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  • From Metaphysics to Ethics: A Defence of Conceptual Analysis.Robert Stalnaker - 1998 - Philosophical and Phenomenological Research 62 (3):631-636.
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  • Nonmoral Explanations.Nicholas L. Sturgeon - 1992 - Philosophical Perspectives 6:97-117.
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  • Taking It Easy: A Response to Colyvan.Mary Leng - 2012 - Mind 121 (484):983-995.
    This discussion note responds to Mark Colyvan’s claim that there is no easy road to nominalism. While Colyvan is right to note that the existence of mathematical explanations presents a more serious challenge to nominalists than is often thought, it is argued that nominalist accounts do have the resources to account for the existence of mathematical explanations whose explanatory role resides elsewhere than in their nominalistic content.
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  • Self-Respect: Moral, Emotional, Political.Robin S. Dillon - 1997 - Ethics 107 (2):226-249.
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  • Moral Explanations of Natural Facts – Can Moral Claims Be Tested Against Moral Reality?Gilbert Harman - 1986 - Southern Journal of Philosophy 24 (S1):57-68.
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  • Mathematics and Reality.Mary Leng - 2011 - Bulletin of Symbolic Logic 17 (2):267-268.
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  • Shapelessness and the Thick.Debbie Roberts - 2011 - Ethics 121 (3):489-520.
    This article aims to clarify the view that thick concepts are irreducibly thick. I do this by putting the disentangling argument in its place and then setting out what nonreductivists about the thick are committed to. To distinguish the view from possible reductive accounts, defenders of irreducible thickness are, I argue, committed to the claim that evaluative concepts and properties are nonevaluatively shapeless. This in turn requires a commitment to (radical) holism and particularism. Nonreductivists are also committed to the claim (...)
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  • A Subject with No Object: Strategies for Nominalistic Interpretation of Mathematics.John P. Burgess & Gideon Rosen - 2001 - Studia Logica 67 (1):146-149.
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