Results for 'optimality explanations'

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  1. Optimal Representations and the Enhanced Indispensability Argument.Manuel Barrantes - 2019 - Synthese 196 (1):247-263.
    The Enhanced Indispensability Argument appeals to the existence of Mathematical Explanations of Physical Phenomena to justify mathematical Platonism, following the principle of Inference to the Best Explanation. In this paper, I examine one example of a MEPP—the explanation of the 13-year and 17-year life cycle of magicicadas—and argue that this case cannot be used defend the EIA. I then generalize my analysis of the cicada case to other MEPPs, and show that these explanations rely on what I will (...)
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  2. Optimality Modeling and Explanatory Generality.Angela Potochnik - 2007 - Philosophy of Science 74 (5):680-691.
    The optimality approach to modeling natural selection has been criticized by many biologists and philosophers of biology. For instance, Lewontin (1979) argues that the optimality approach is a shortcut that will be replaced by models incorporating genetic information, if and when such models become available. In contrast, I think that optimality models have a permanent role in evolutionary study. I base my argument for this claim on what I think it takes to best explain an event. In (...)
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  3.  32
    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 overlapping causal (...)
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  4. Explanatory Independence and Epistemic Interdependence: A Case Study of the Optimality Approach.Angela Potochnik - 2010 - British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 61 (1):213-233.
    The value of optimality modeling has long been a source of contention amongst population biologists. Here I present a view of the optimality approach as at once playing a crucial explanatory role and yet also depending on external sources of confirmation. Optimality models are not alone in facing this tension between their explanatory value and their dependence on other approaches; I suspect that the scenario is quite common in science. This investigation of the optimality approach thus (...)
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  5. 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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  6. Some Concerns Regarding Explanatory Pluralism: The Explanatory Role of Optimality Models.Gabriel Târziu - 2019 - Filozofia Nauki 28 (4):95-113.
    Optimality models are widely used in different parts of biology. Two important questions that have been asked about such models are: are they explanatory and, if so, what type of explanations do they offer? My concern in this paper is with the approach of Rice (2012, 2015) and Irvine (2015), who claim that these models provide non-causal explanations. I argue that there are serious problems with this approach and with the accounts of explanation it is intended to (...)
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  7. Minimal Models and the Generalized Ontic Conception of Scientific Explanation.Mark Povich - 2018 - British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 69 (1):117-137.
    Batterman and Rice ([2014]) argue that minimal models possess explanatory power that cannot be captured by what they call ‘common features’ approaches to explanation. Minimal models are explanatory, according to Batterman and Rice, not in virtue of accurately representing relevant features, but in virtue of answering three questions that provide a ‘story about why large classes of features are irrelevant to the explanandum phenomenon’ ([2014], p. 356). In this article, I argue, first, that a method (the renormalization group) they propose (...)
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  8. Wiring Optimization Explanation in Neuroscience: What is Special About It?Sergio Daniel Barberis - 2019 - Theoria : An International Journal for Theory, History and Fundations of Science 1 (34):89-110.
    This paper examines the explanatory distinctness of wiring optimization models in neuroscience. Wiring optimization models aim to represent the organizational features of neural and brain systems as optimal (or near-optimal) solutions to wiring optimization problems. My claim is that that wiring optimization models provide design explanations. In particular, they support ideal interventions on the decision variables of the relevant design problem and assess the impact of such interventions on the viability of the target system.
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  9. How to Study Adaptation (and Why to Do It That Way).Mark E. Olson & Alfonso Arroyo-Santos - 2015 - Quarterly Review of Biology 90 (2):167-191.
    Some adaptationist explanations are regarded as maximally solid and others fanciful just-so stories. Just-so stories are explanations based on very little evidence. Lack of evidence leads to circular-sounding reasoning: “this trait was shaped by selection in unseen ancestral populations and this selection must have occurred because the trait is present.” Well-supported adaptationist explanations include evidence that is not only abundant but selected from comparative, populational, and optimality perspectives, the three adaptationist subdisciplines. Each subdiscipline obtains its broad (...)
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  10. Dos usos de los modelos de optimalidad en las explicaciones por selección natural.Santiago Ginnobili & Ariel Roffé - 2017 - Metatheoria 8 (1):43-55.
    Resumen -/- El objetivo de este trabajo consiste en analizar las relaciones entre los modelos de optimalidad y la selección natural. Defenderemos que esas relaciones pueden dividirse en dos tipos, en tanto hay dos tipos de explicaciones seleccionistas, que llamaremos “históricas” y “ahistóricas”. Las explicaciones históricas revelan como una población dada adquiere un rasgo que es adaptativo en ese ambiente e involucran muchas generaciones, variación, etc. Las explicaciones ahistóricas, explican por qué, en determinado momento, ciertos tipos de organismos tienen un (...)
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  11. What’s a Rational Self-Torturer to Do?Douglas W. Portmore - manuscript
    This paper concerns Warren Quinn’s famous “The Puzzle of the Self-Torturer.” I argue that even if we accept his assumption that practical rationality is purely instrumental such that what he ought to do is simply a function of how the relevant options compare to each other in terms of satisfying his actual preferences that doesn’t mean that every explanation as to why he shouldn’t advance to the next level must appeal to the idea that so advancing would be suboptimal in (...)
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  12.  62
    The Contingency of Creation and Divine Choice.Fatema Amijee - forthcoming - Oxford Studies in Philosophy of Religion.
    According to the Principle of Sufficient Reason (‘PSR’), every fact has an explanation for why it obtains. If the PSR is true, there must be a sufficient reason for why God chose to create our world. But a sufficient reason for God’s choice plausibly necessitates that choice. It thus seems that God could not have done otherwise, and that our world exists necessarily. We therefore appear forced to pick between the PSR, and the contingency of creation and divine choice. I (...)
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  13. 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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  14. Optimality Modeling in a Suboptimal World.Angela Potochnik - 2009 - Biology and Philosophy 24 (2):183-197.
    The fate of optimality modeling is typically linked to that of adaptationism: the two are thought to stand or fall together (Gould and Lewontin, Proc Relig Soc Lond 205:581–598, 1979; Orzack and Sober, Am Nat 143(3):361–380, 1994). I argue here that this is mistaken. The debate over adaptationism has tended to focus on one particular use of optimality models, which I refer to here as their strong use. The strong use of an optimality model involves the claim (...)
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  15.  97
    How Did That Individual Make That Perceptual Decision?David A. Booth - 2018 - Behavioral and Brain Sciences 41:E226.
    Suboptimality of decision making needs no explanation. High level accounts of suboptimality in diverse tasks cannot add up to a mechanistic theory of perceptual decision making. Mental processes operate on the contents of information brought by the experimenter and the participant to the task, not on the amount of information in the stimuli without regard to physical and social context.
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  16. Optimality and Teleology in Aristotle's Natural Science.Devin Henry - manuscript
    In this paper I examine the role of optimality reasoning in Aristotle’s natural science. By “optimality reasoning” I mean reasoning that appeals to some conception of “what is best” in order to explain why things are the way they are. We are first introduced to this pattern of reasoning in the famous passage at Phaedo 97b8-98a2, where (Plato’s) Socrates invokes “what is best” as a cause (aitia) of things in nature. This passage can be seen as the intellectual (...)
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  17. 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 normative (...)
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  18. 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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  19. 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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  20.  91
    Does Optimal Partitioning Account for Universal Color Categorization?Yasmina Jraissati & Igor Douven - 2017 - PLoS ONE 12.
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  21. 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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  22. 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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  23. Psychological Explanation: An Introduction To The Philosophy Of Psychology.Jerry A. Fodor - 1968 - Ny: Random House.
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  24. 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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  25. Epistemic Landscapes, Optimal Search, and the Division of Cognitive Labor.Jason McKenzie Alexander, Johannes Himmelreich & Christopher Thompson - 2015 - Philosophy of Science 82 (3):424-453,.
    This article examines two questions about scientists’ search for knowledge. First, which search strategies generate discoveries effectively? Second, is it advantageous to diversify search strategies? We argue pace Weisberg and Muldoon, “Epistemic Landscapes and the Division of Cognitive Labor”, that, on the first question, a search strategy that deliberately seeks novel research approaches need not be optimal. On the second question, we argue they have not shown epistemic reasons exist for the division of cognitive labor, identifying the errors that led (...)
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  26. 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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  27. 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 theory faces. The final (...)
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  28.  27
    General Representation of Epistemically Optimal Procedures.Franz Dietrich - 2006 - Social Choice and Welfare 2 (26):263-283.
    Assuming that votes are independent, the epistemically optimal procedure in a binary collective choice problem is known to be a weighted supermajority rule with weights given by personal log-likelihood-ratios. It is shown here that an analogous result holds in a much more general model. Firstly, the result follows from a more basic principle than expected-utility maximisation, namely from an axiom (Epistemic Monotonicity) which requires neither utilities nor prior probabilities of the ‘correctness’ of alternatives. Secondly, a person’s input need not be (...)
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  29. 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 generalists. In (...)
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  30. 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, many of whom have (...)
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  31. 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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  32.  23
    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 (...)
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  33. 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” will (...)
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  34. 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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  35. 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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  36. 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 (...)
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  37. 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 (...)
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  38. 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 (...)
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  39. 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 sense an (...)
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  40. 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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  41. 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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  42. 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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  43. 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 is (...)
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  44. 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 (...)
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  45. 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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  46. 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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  47. 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 explanation inherits irreflexivity and (...)
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  48. 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: (1) Both metaphysics (...)
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  49. 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 (...)
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  50. Illusions of Optimal Motion, Relationism, and Perceptual Content.Santiago Echeverri - 2017 - Pacific Philosophical Quarterly 98 (S1):146-173.
    Austere relationism rejects the orthodox analysis of hallucinations and illusions as incorrect perceptual representations. In this article, I argue that illusions of optimal motion present a serious challenge for this view. First, I submit that austere-relationist accounts of misleading experiences cannot be adapted to account for IOMs. Second, I show that any attempt at elucidating IOMs within an austere-relationist framework undermines the claim that perceptual experiences fundamentally involve relations to mind-independent objects. Third, I develop a representationalist model of IOMs. The (...)
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