Results for 'explanation'

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  1. Explanation and Essence in Posterior Analytics II 16-17.Breno Andrade Zuppolini - 2018 - Archai: Revista de Estudos Sobre as Origens Do Pensamento Ocidental 24:229-264.
    In Posterior Analytics II 16-17, Aristotle seems to claim that there cannot be more than one explanans of the same scientific explanandum. However, this seems to be true only for “primary-universal” demonstrations, in which the major term belongs to the minor “in itself” and the middle term is coextensive with the extremes. If so, several explananda we would like to admit as truly scientific would be out of the scope of an Aristotelian science. The secondary literature has identified a second (...)
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  2. Grounding Explanations.Louis deRosset - 2013 - Philosophers' Imprint 13.
    A compelling idea holds that reality has a layered structure. We often disagree about what inhabits the bottom layer, but we agree that higher up we find chemical, biological, geological, psychological, sociological, economic, /etc./, entities: molecules, human beings, diamonds, mental states, cities, interest rates, and so on. How is this intuitive talk of a layered structure of entities to be understood? Traditionally, philosophers have proposed to understand layered structure in terms of either reduction or supervenience. But these traditional views face (...)
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  3. 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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  4. Explanation.Martin Glazier - 2020 - In Michael J. Raven (ed.), Routledge Handbook of Metaphysical Grounding. London: pp. 121-132.
    I survey the philosophical literature on grounding explanation and its connection to metaphysical ground.
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  5. Explaining Explanations in AI.Brent Mittelstadt - forthcoming - FAT* 2019 Proceedings 1.
    Recent work on interpretability in machine learning and AI has focused on the building of simplified models that approximate the true criteria used to make decisions. These models are a useful pedagogical device for teaching trained professionals how to predict what decisions will be made by the complex system, and most importantly how the system might break. However, when considering any such model it’s important to remember Box’s maxim that "All models are wrong but some are useful." We focus on (...)
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  6. Metaphysical Explanation by Constraint.Michael Bertrand - 2019 - Erkenntnis 84 (6):1325-1340.
    It is often thought that metaphysical grounding underwrites a distinctive sort of metaphysical explanation. However, it would be a mistake to think that all metaphysical explanations are underwritten by metaphysical grounding. In service of this claim, I offer a novel kind of metaphysical explanation called metaphysical explanation by constraint, examples of which have been neglected in the literature. I argue that metaphysical explanations by constraint are not well understood as grounding explanations.
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  7. Psychological Explanation: An Introduction To The Philosophy Of Psychology.Jerry A. Fodor - 1968 - Ny: Random House.
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  8. On Explanations From Geometry of Motion.Juha Saatsi - 2018 - British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 69 (1):253–273.
    This paper examines explanations that turn on non-local geometrical facts about the space of possible configurations a system can occupy. I argue that it makes sense to contrast such explanations from "geometry of motion" with causal explanations. I also explore how my analysis of these explanations cuts across the distinction between kinematics and dynamics.
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  9. Mathematical Explanation by Law.Sam Baron - 2019 - British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 70 (3):683-717.
    Call an explanation in which a non-mathematical fact is explained—in part or in whole—by mathematical facts: an extra-mathematical explanation. Such explanations have attracted a great deal of interest recently in arguments over mathematical realism. In this article, a theory of extra-mathematical explanation is developed. The theory is modelled on a deductive-nomological theory of scientific explanation. A basic DN account of extra-mathematical explanation is proposed and then redeveloped in the light of two difficulties that the basic (...)
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  10. Mechanistic Explanation Without the Ontic Conception.Cory Wright - 2012 - European Journal of Philosophy of Science 2 (3):375-394.
    The ontic conception of scientific explanation has been constructed and motivated on the basis of a putative lexical ambiguity in the term explanation. I raise a puzzle for this ambiguity claim, and then give a deflationary solution under which all ontically-rendered talk of explanation is merely elliptical; what it is elliptical for is a view of scientific explanation that altogether avoids the ontic conception. This result has revisionary consequences for New Mechanists and other philosophers of science, (...)
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  11. Nomothetic Explanation and Humeanism About Laws of Nature.Harjit Bhogal - forthcoming - Oxford Studies in Metaphysics.
    Humeanism about laws of nature — the view that the laws reduce to the Humean mosaic — is a popular view, but currently existing versions face powerful objections. The non-supervenience objection, the non-fundamentality objection and the explanatory circularity objection have all been thought to cause problems for the Humean. However, these objections share a guiding thought — they are all based on the idea that there is a certain kind of divergence between the practice of science and the metaphysical picture (...)
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  12.  37
    The explanation game: a formal framework for interpretable machine learning.David S. Watson & Luciano Floridi - forthcoming - Synthese:1-32.
    We propose a formal framework for interpretable machine learning. Combining elements from statistical learning, causal interventionism, and decision theory, we design an idealised explanation game in which players collaborate to find the best explanation for a given algorithmic prediction. Through an iterative procedure of questions and answers, the players establish a three-dimensional Pareto frontier that describes the optimal trade-offs between explanatory accuracy, simplicity, and relevance. Multiple rounds are played at different levels of abstraction, allowing the players to explore (...)
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  13. Explanation and Understanding: An Alternative to Strevens’ D Epth.Angela Potochnik - 2011 - European Journal for Philosophy of Science 1 (1):29-38.
    Michael Strevens offers an account of causal explanation according to which explanatory practice is shaped by counterbalanced commitments to representing causal influence and abstracting away from overly specific details. In this paper, I challenge a key feature of that account. I argue that what Strevens calls explanatory frameworks figure prominently in explanatory practice because they actually improve explanations. This suggestion is simple but has far-reaching implications. It affects the status of explanations that cite multiply realizable properties; changes the explanatory (...)
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  14. Narrative Explanation.J. David Velleman - 2003 - Philosophical Review 112 (1):1-25.
    A story does more than recount events; it recounts events in a way that renders them intelligible, thus conveying not just information but also understanding. We might therefore be tempted to describe narrative as a genre of explanation. When the police invite a suspect to “tell his story,” they are asking him to explain the blood on his shirt or his absence from home on the night of the murder; and whether he is judged to have a “good story” (...)
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  15. Inference to the Best Explanation Made Incoherent.Nevin Climenhaga - 2017 - Journal of Philosophy 114 (5):251-273.
    Defenders of Inference to the Best Explanation claim that explanatory factors should play an important role in empirical inference. They disagree, however, about how exactly to formulate this role. In particular, they disagree about whether to formulate IBE as an inference rule for full beliefs or for degrees of belief, as well as how a rule for degrees of belief should relate to Bayesianism. In this essay I advance a new argument against non-Bayesian versions of IBE. My argument focuses (...)
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  16. Explanation and Method in Eudemian Ethics I.6.Lucas Angioni - 2017 - Archai: Revista de Estudos Sobre as Origens Do Pensamento Ocidental 20:191-229.
    I discuss the methodological passage in the begin- ning of Ethica Eudemia I.6 (1216b26-35), which has received attention in connection with Aristotle’s notion of dialectic and his methodology in Ethics. My central focus is not to discuss whether Aristotle is prescribing and using what has been called the method of endoxa. I will focus on how this passage coheres with the remaining parts of the same chapter, which also are advancing methodological remarks. My claim is that the meth- od of (...)
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  17. Explanation in Mathematics: Proofs and Practice.William D'Alessandro - 2019 - Philosophy Compass 14 (11).
    Mathematicians distinguish between proofs that explain their results and those that merely prove. This paper explores the nature of explanatory proofs, their role in mathematical practice, and some of the reasons why philosophers should care about them. Among the questions addressed are the following: what kinds of proofs are generally explanatory (or not)? What makes a proof explanatory? Do all mathematical explanations involve proof in an essential way? Are there really such things as explanatory proofs, and if so, how do (...)
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  18. Explaining Explanation.David-Hillel Ruben - 1990 - Routledge.
    This book introduces readers to the topic of explanation. The insights of Plato, Aristotle, J.S. Mill and Carl Hempel are examined, and are used to argue against the view that explanation is merely a problem for the philosophy of science. Having established its importance for understanding knowledge in general, the book concludes with a bold and original explanation of explanation.
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  19. Normative Explanation and Justification.Pekka Väyrynen - 2021 - Noûs 55 (1):3-22.
    Normative explanations of why things are wrong, good, or unfair are ubiquitous in ordinary practice and normative theory. This paper argues that normative explanation is subject to a justification condition: a correct complete explanation of why a normative fact holds must identify features that would go at least some way towards justifying certain actions or attitudes. I first explain and motivate the condition I propose. I then support it by arguing that it fits well with various theories of (...)
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  20. Scientific Explanation and Moral Explanation.Uri D. Leibowitz - 2011 - Noûs 45 (3):472-503.
    Moral philosophers are, among other things, in the business of constructing moral theories. And moral theories are, among other things, supposed to explain moral phenomena. Consequently, one’s views about the nature of moral explanation will influence the kinds of moral theories one is willing to countenance. Many moral philosophers are (explicitly or implicitly) committed to a deductive model of explanation. As I see it, this commitment lies at the heart of the current debate between moral particularists and moral (...)
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  21. Metaphysical Explanation: The Kitcher Picture.Sam Baron & James Norton - 2019 - Erkenntnis 86 (1):187-207.
    This paper offers a new account of metaphysical explanation. The account is modelled on Kitcher’s unificationist approach to scientific explanation. We begin, in Sect. 2, by briefly introducing the notion of metaphysical explanation and outlining the target of analysis. After that, we introduce a unificationist account of metaphysical explanation before arguing that such an account is capable of capturing four core features of metaphysical explanations: irreflexivity, non-monotonicity, asymmetry and relevance. Since the unificationist theory of metaphysical (...) inherits irreflexivity and non-monotonicity directly from the unificationist theory of scientific explanation that underwrites it, we focus on demonstrating how the account can secure asymmetry and relevance. (shrink)
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  22. The Metaphysics of Moral Explanations.Daniel Fogal & Olle Risberg - 2020 - Oxford Studies in Metaethics 15.
    It’s commonly held that particular moral facts are explained by ‘natural’ or ‘descriptive’ facts, though there’s disagreement over how such explanations work. We defend the view that general moral principles also play a role in explaining particular moral facts. More specifically, we argue that this view best makes sense of some intuitive data points, including the supervenience of the moral upon the natural. We consider two alternative accounts of the nature and structure of moral principles—’the nomic view’ and ‘moral platonism’—before (...)
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  23. Scientific Explanation: Putting Communication First.Angela Potochnik - 2016 - Philosophy of Science 83 (5):721-732.
    Scientific explanations must bear the proper relationship to the world: they must depict what, out in the world, is responsible for the explanandum. But explanations must also bear the proper relationship to their audience: they must be able to create human understanding. With few exceptions, philosophical accounts of explanation either ignore entirely the relationship between explanations and their audience or else demote this consideration to an ancillary role. In contrast, I argue that considering an explanation’s communicative role is (...)
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  24. Explanation and Definition in Physics I 1.Lucas Angioni - 2001 - Apeiron 34 (4):307 - 320.
    I discuss Aristotle's anomalous terminology in Physics A.1 (involving "universals" and "particulars") and its coherence with Aristotle's notion of scientific demonstration.
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  25. Essentialist Explanation.Martin Glazier - 2017 - Philosophical Studies 174 (11):2871-2889.
    Recent years have seen an explosion of interest in metaphysical explanation, and philosophers have fixed on the notion of ground as the conceptual tool with which such explanation should be investigated. I will argue that this focus on ground is myopic and that some metaphysical explanations that involve the essences of things cannot be understood in terms of ground. Such ‘essentialist’ explanation is of interest, not only for its ubiquity in philosophy, but for its being in a (...)
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  26. Experiential Explanation.Sara Aronowitz & Tania Lombrozo - 2020 - Topics in Cognitive Science 12 (4):1321-1336.
    People often answer why-questions with what we call experiential explanations: narratives or stories with temporal structure and concrete details. In contrast, on most theories of the epistemic function of explanation, explanations should be abstractive: structured by general relationships and lacking extraneous details. We suggest that abstractive and experiential explanations differ not only in level of abstraction, but also in structure, and that each form of explanation contributes to the epistemic goals of individual learners and of science. In particular, (...)
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  27. How Explanation Guides Confirmation.Nevin Climenhaga - 2017 - Philosophy of Science 84 (2):359-68.
    Where E is the proposition that [If H and O were true, H would explain O], William Roche and Elliot Sober have argued that P(H|O&E) = P(H|O). In this paper I argue that not only is this equality not generally true, it is false in the very kinds of cases that Roche and Sober focus on, involving frequency data. In fact, in such cases O raises the probability of H only given that there is an explanatory connection between them.
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  28.  33
    Etiological Explanations.Olaf Dammann - 2020 - Boca Raton, FL, USA: CRC Press.
    Theory of illness causation is an important issue in all biomedical sciences, and solid etiological explanations are needed in order to develop therapeutic approaches in medicine and preventive interventions in public health. Until now, the literature about the theoretical underpinnings of illness causation research has been scarce and fragmented, and lacking a convenient summary. This interdisciplinary book provides a convenient and accessible distillation of the current status of research into this developing field, and adds a personal flavor to the discussion (...)
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  29. Inference, Explanation, and Asymmetry.Kareem Khalifa, Jared Millson & Mark Risjord - 2018 - Synthese (Suppl 4):929-953.
    Explanation is asymmetric: if A explains B, then B does not explain A. Tradition- ally, the asymmetry of explanation was thought to favor causal accounts of explanation over their rivals, such as those that take explanations to be inferences. In this paper, we develop a new inferential approach to explanation that outperforms causal approaches in accounting for the asymmetry of explanation.
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  30. Beyond Explanation: Understanding as Dependency Modeling.Finnur Dellsén - 2018 - British Journal for the Philosophy of Science (4):1261-1286.
    This paper presents and argues for an account of objectual understanding that aims to do justice to the full range of cases of scientific understanding, including cases in which one does not have an explanation of the understood phenomenon. According to the proposed account, one understands a phenomenon just in case one grasps a sufficiently accurate and comprehensive model of the ways in which it or its features are situated within a network of dependence relations; one’s degree of understanding (...)
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  31. Should Explanations Omit the Details?Darren Bradley - 2020 - British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 71 (3):827-853.
    There is a widely shared belief that the higher-level sciences can provide better explanations than lower-level sciences. But there is little agreement about exactly why this is so. It is often suggested that higher-level explanations are better because they omit details. I will argue instead that the preference for higher-level explanations is just a special case of our general preference for informative, logically strong, beliefs. I argue that our preference for informative beliefs entirely accounts for why higher-level explanations are sometimes (...)
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  32. Explanation and Explanationism in Science and Metaphysics.Juha Saatsi - forthcoming - In Matthew Slater & Zanja Yudell (eds.), Metaphysics and the Philosophy of Science: New Essays. Oxford University Press.
    This chapter examines the status of inference to the best explanation in naturalistic metaphysics. The methodology of inference to the best explanation in metaphysics is studied from the perspective of contemporary views on scientific explanation and explanatory inferences in the history and philosophy of science. This reveals serious shortcomings in prevalent attempts to vindicate metaphysical "explanationism" by reference to similarities between science and naturalistic metaphysics. This critique is brought out by considering a common gambit of methodological unity: (...)
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  33. Truth: Explanation, Success, and Coincidence.Will Gamester - 2018 - Philosophical Studies 175 (5):1243-1265.
    Inflationists have argued that truth is a causal-explanatory property on the grounds that true belief facilitates practical success: we must postulate truth to explain the practical success of certain actions performed by rational agents. Deflationists, however, have a seductive response. Rather than deny that true belief facilitates practical success, the deflationist maintains that the sole role for truth here is as a device for generalisation. In particular, each individual instance of practical success can be explained only by reference to a (...)
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  34. Essence, Explanation, and Modality.Michael Wallner & Anand Vaidya - forthcoming - Philosophy:1-27.
    Recently, Kit Fine's view that modal truths are true in virtue of, grounded in, or explained by essentialist truths has been under attack. In what follows we offer two responses to the wave of criticism against his view. While the first response is pretty straightforward, the second is based on the distinction between, what we call, Reductive Finean Essentialism and Non-Reductive Finean Essentialism. Engaging the work of Bob Hale on Non-Reductive Finean Essentialism, we aim to show that the arguments against (...)
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  35. Explanations: Aesthetic and Scientific.Shen-yi Liao - 2014 - Royal Institute of Philosophy Supplement 75:127-149.
    Methodologically, philosophical aesthetics is undergoing an evolution that takes it closer to the sciences. Taking this methodological convergence as the starting point, I argue for a pragmatist and pluralist view of aesthetic explanations. To bring concreteness to discussion, I focus on vindicating genre explanations, which are explanations of aesthetic phenomena that centrally cite a work's genre classification. I show that theoretical resources that philosophers of science have developed with attention to actual scientific practice and the special sciences can be used (...)
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  36. Humean Scientific Explanation.Elizabeth Miller - 2015 - Philosophical Studies 172 (5):1311-1332.
    In a recent paper, Barry Loewer attempts to defend Humeanism about laws of nature from a charge that Humean laws are not adequately explanatory. Central to his defense is a distinction between metaphysical and scientific explanations: even if Humeans cannot offer further metaphysical explanations of particular features of their “mosaic,” that does not preclude them from offering scientific explanations of these features. According to Marc Lange, however, Loewer’s distinction is of no avail. Defending a transitivity principle linking scientific explanantia to (...)
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  37. High-Level Explanation and the Interventionist’s ‘Variables Problem’.L. R. Franklin-Hall - 2016 - British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 67 (2):553-577.
    The interventionist account of causal explanation, in the version presented by Jim Woodward, has been recently claimed capable of buttressing the widely felt—though poorly understood—hunch that high-level, relatively abstract explanations, of the sort provided by sciences like biology, psychology and economics, are in some cases explanatorily optimal. It is the aim of this paper to show that this is mistaken. Due to a lack of effective constraints on the causal variables at the heart of the interventionist causal-explanatory scheme, as (...)
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  38. Grounding-Mechanical Explanation.Kelly Trogdon - 2018 - Philosophical Studies 175 (6):1289-1309.
    Characterization of a form of explanation involving grounding on the model of mechanistic causal explanation.
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  39. Equilibrium Explanation as Structural Non-Mechanistic Explanation: The Case Long-Term Bacterial Persistence in Human Hosts.Javier Suárez & Roger Deulofeu - 2019 - Teorema: International Journal of Philosophy 3 (38):95-120.
    Philippe Huneman has recently questioned the widespread application of mechanistic models of scientific explanation based on the existence of structural explanations, i.e. explanations that account for the phenomenon to be explained in virtue of the mathematical properties of the system where the phenomenon obtains, rather than in terms of the mechanisms that causally produce the phenomenon. Structural explanations are very diverse, including cases like explanations in terms of bowtie structures, in terms of the topological properties of the system, or (...)
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  40.  78
    Calling for Explanation.Dan Baras - forthcoming - Oxford University Press.
    The assumption that certain facts can’t be mere coincidences—that they call for explanation—underlies influential debates in metaethics, metaphysics, philosophy of mathematics and philosophy of science. Despite its prevalence and importance as a fundamental assumption in so many debates across fields of study, the premise is rarely questioned, and the distinction between facts that call for explanation and those that do not has thus far received little careful attention. My book aims to fill this gap by both mapping out (...)
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  41. 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 (...)
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  42. Ontic Explanation Is Either Ontic or Explanatory, but Not Both.Cory Wright & Dingmar van Eck - 2018 - Ergo: An Open Access Journal of Philosophy 5:997–1029.
    What features will something have if it counts as an explanation? And will something count as an explanation if it has those features? In the second half of the 20th century, philosophers of science set for themselves the task of answering such questions, just as a priori conceptual analysis was generally falling out of favor. And as it did, most philosophers of science just moved on to more manageable questions about the varieties of explanation and discipline-specific scientific (...)
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  43. Safety, Explanation, Iteration.Daniel Greco - 2016 - Philosophical Issues 26 (1):187-208.
    This paper argues for several related theses. First, the epistemological position that knowledge requires safe belief can be motivated by views in the philosophy of science, according to which good explanations show that their explananda are robust. This motivation goes via the idea—recently defended on both conceptual and empirical grounds—that knowledge attributions play a crucial role in explaining successful action. Second, motivating the safety requirement in this way creates a choice point—depending on how we understand robustness, we'll end up with (...)
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  44. Grounding and Metaphysical Explanation.Naomi Thompson - 2016 - Proceedings of the Aristotelian Society 116 (3):395-402.
    Attempts to elucidate grounding are often made by connecting grounding to metaphysical explanation, but the notion of metaphysical explanation is itself opaque, and has received little attention in the literature. We can appeal to theories of explanation in the philosophy of science to give us a characterization of metaphysical explanation, but this reveals a tension between three theses: that grounding relations are objective and mind-independent; that there are pragmatic elements to metaphysical explanation; and that grounding (...)
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  45. Calling for explanation: the case of the thermodynamic past state.Dan Baras & Orly Shenker - 2020 - European Journal for Philosophy of Science 10 (3):1-20.
    Philosophers of physics have long debated whether the Past State of low entropy of our universe calls for explanation. What is meant by “calls for explanation”? In this article we analyze this notion, distinguishing between several possible meanings that may be attached to it. Taking the debate around the Past State as a case study, we show how our analysis of what “calling for explanation” might mean can contribute to clarifying the debate and perhaps to settling it, (...)
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  46. Viewing-as Explanations and Ontic Dependence.William D’Alessandro - 2020 - Philosophical Studies 177 (3):769-792.
    According to a widespread view in metaphysics and philosophy of science, all explanations involve relations of ontic dependence between the items appearing in the explanandum and the items appearing in the explanans. I argue that a family of mathematical cases, which I call “viewing-as explanations”, are incompatible with the Dependence Thesis. These cases, I claim, feature genuine explanations that aren’t supported by ontic dependence relations. Hence the thesis isn’t true in general. The first part of the paper defends this claim (...)
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  47. Explaining Explanation.Robert A. Wilson & Frank C. Keil - 2000 - In Frank C. And Wilson Keil (ed.), Explanation and Cognition. Cambridge, MA, USA: pp. 1-18.
    It is not a particularly hard thing to want or seek explanations. In fact, explanations seem to be a large and natural part of our cognitive lives. Children ask why and how questions very early in development and seem genuinely to want some sort of answer, despite our often being poorly equipped to provide them at the appropriate level of sophistication and detail. We seek and receive explanations in every sphere of our adult lives, whether it be to understand why (...)
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  48. New Mechanistic Explanation and the Need for Explanatory Constraints.L. R. Franklin-Hall - 2016 - In Ken Aizawa & Carl Gillett (eds.), Scientific Composition and Metaphysical Ground. Palgrave. pp. 41-74.
    This paper critiques the new mechanistic explanatory program on grounds that, even when applied to the kinds of examples that it was originally designed to treat, it does not distinguish correct explanations from those that blunder. First, I offer a systematization of the explanatory account, one according to which explanations are mechanistic models that satisfy three desiderata: they must 1) represent causal relations, 2) describe the proper parts, and 3) depict the system at the right ‘level.’ Second, I argue that (...)
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  49. Weighted Explanations in History.Robert Northcott - 2008 - Philosophy of the Social Sciences 38 (1):76-96.
    , whereby some causes are deemed more important than others, are ubiquitous in historical studies. Drawing from influential recent work on causation, I develop a definition of causal-explanatory strength. This makes clear exactly which aspects of explanatory weighting are subjective and which objective. It also sheds new light on several traditional issues, showing for instance that: underlying causes need not be more important than proximate ones; several different causes can each be responsible for most of an effect; small causes need (...)
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  50. Justification and Explanation in Mathematics and Morality.Justin Clarke-Doane - 2015 - Oxford Studies in Metaethics 10.
    In his influential book, The Nature of Morality, Gilbert Harman writes: “In explaining the observations that support a physical theory, scientists typically appeal to mathematical principles. On the other hand, one never seems to need to appeal in this way to moral principles.” What is the epistemological relevance of this contrast, if genuine? This chapter argues that ethicists and philosophers of mathematics have misunderstood it. They have confused what the chapter calls the justificatory challenge for realism about an area, D—the (...)
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