Open Access. Powered by Scholars. Published by Universities.®

Philosophy Commons

Open Access. Powered by Scholars. Published by Universities.®

Explanation

Discipline
Institution
Publication Year
Publication
Publication Type
File Type

Articles 1 - 30 of 38

Full-Text Articles in Philosophy

Defending A Modest Semantic Brutalism, Jean Pierre Cordero Rojas May 2019

Defending A Modest Semantic Brutalism, Jean Pierre Cordero Rojas

Theses and Dissertations

Scott Soames is a naturalist propositional realist. Propositional realism requires a commitment to propositions, propositional access, and semantic properties (namely, representationality and truth conditionality). Soames' task, as a naturalist propositional realist, is to give appropriate explanations of the entities in question in terms of a naturalist base ontology. In contrast, brutalism (of any sort) holds that some facts are brute or unexplainable in terms of some base ontology. I argue that at least one semantic fact in particular—that propositional representationality bears the property I call Tight Connection—remains unexplained even given Soames' efforts. I argue that there is no ...


A Historical Approach To Understanding Explanatory Proofs Based On Mathematical Practices, Erika Oshiro Feb 2019

A Historical Approach To Understanding Explanatory Proofs Based On Mathematical Practices, Erika Oshiro

Graduate Theses and Dissertations

My dissertation focuses on mathematical explanation found in proofs looked at from a historical point of view, while stressing the importance of mathematical practices. Current philosophical theories on explanatory proofs emphasize the structure and content of proofs without any regard to external factors that influence a proof’s explanatory power. As a result, the major philosophical views have been shown to be inadequate in capturing general aspects of explanation. I argue that, in addition to form and content, a proof’s explanatory power depends on its targeted audience. History is useful here, because from it, we are able to follow ...


Inferring And Explaining, Jeffery L. Johnson Jan 2019

Inferring And Explaining, Jeffery L. Johnson

PDXOpen: Open Access Textbooks

Inferring and Explaining is a book in practical epistemology. It examines the notion of evidence and assumes that good evidence is the essence of rational thinking. Evidence is the cornerstone of the natural, social, and behavioral sciences. But it is equally central to almost all academic pursuits and, perhaps most importantly, to the basic need to live an intelligent and reflective life.

The book further assumes that a particular model of evidence— Inference to the Best Explanation—not only captures the essence of (good) evidence but suggests a very practical, and pedagogically useful, procedure for evidence evaluation. The book is ...


Essence, Explanation, And Modal Knowledge, Antonella Mallozzi Sep 2018

Essence, Explanation, And Modal Knowledge, Antonella Mallozzi

All Dissertations, Theses, and Capstone Projects

The primary aim of this project is to put forward a novel account of knowledge of metaphysical modality. I call this the “Essentialist Superexplanatory” account of modal knowledge, because it relies on the following two main theses: (a) knowledge of metaphysical necessity is grounded in knowledge of essence; and (b) essences are properties, sets of properties, or mechanisms, having distinctive explanatory powers for how things are. While thesis (a) is quite popular in the current debates, mostly thanks to Kit Fine’s recent work in modal metaphysics, thesis (b) introduces an original brand of essentialism. As I show by means ...


Constraints And Explanation, Alexander Bolano Apr 2018

Constraints And Explanation, Alexander Bolano

Theses

For the past 40 years, causal-mechanical approaches to explanation in science have been the received view. In this paper, I will argue that causal-mechanical approaches to explanation are not the whole story; there is a notable class of explanations that I call constraining explanation. Constraining explanation do not work by describing some causal structure; rather they work by highlighting mathematical constraints on what kinds of structure there can be. Constraining explanations are different that causal explanations because they give a kind of modal knowledge that causal-mechanical explanation alone cannot give.


Grounding Physicalism, Zachary Kofi Aug 2017

Grounding Physicalism, Zachary Kofi

Theses and Dissertations

Grounding physicalism is the thesis that fundamental physical truths ground every other truth. Ted Sider and Shamik Dasgupta have recently put forward a serious challenge to grounding physicalism. The challenge is an instance of a more general challenge concerning what grounds grounding facts, which has been powerfully presented by Karen Bennett. If A is some fundamental fact about physics that grounds some fact B about mental states, then what grounds the fact that A grounds B? The grounding physicalist who says that such facts are either grounded or ungrounded seems to face a dilemma: Either grounding facts are grounded and ...


Aspects Of Biological Explanation, Derek J. Skillings Jun 2017

Aspects Of Biological Explanation, Derek J. Skillings

All Dissertations, Theses, and Capstone Projects

This dissertation is an evaluation of some strategies used for understanding the biological world. It argues that the complexity of living systems challenges the adequacy of traditional approaches to scientific explanation. An examination of the empirical details—especially those at the microscopic and nano scales—highlights the limitations of mechanistic explanation, common habits of causal reasoning, and theories of individuality. According to this analysis, starting with broad generalizations of how the world is, or a single universal theory of how it ought to be investigated or explained, has things entirely backwards. Instead, we ought to start by looking at the ...


Mathematical Proofs: The Beautiful And The Explanatory, Marcus Giaquinto Jan 2016

Mathematical Proofs: The Beautiful And The Explanatory, Marcus Giaquinto

Journal of Humanistic Mathematics

Mathematicians sometimes judge a mathematical proof to be beautiful and in doing so seem to be making a judgement of the same kind as aesthetic judgements of works of visual art, music or literature. Mathematical proofs are also appraised for explanatoriness: some proofs merely establish their conclusions as true, while others also show why their conclusions are true. This paper will focus on the prima facie plausible assumption that, for mathematical proofs, beauty and explanatoriness tend to go together.

To make headway we need to have some grip on what it is for a proof to be beautiful, and for ...


Explanatory Proofs And Beautiful Proofs, Marc Lange Jan 2016

Explanatory Proofs And Beautiful Proofs, Marc Lange

Journal of Humanistic Mathematics

This paper concerns the relation between a proof’s beauty and its explanatory power – that is, its capacity to go beyond proving a given theorem to explaining why that theorem holds. Explanatory power and beauty are among the many virtues that mathematicians value and seek in various proofs, and it is important to come to a better understanding of the relations among these virtues. Mathematical practice has long recognized that certain proofs but not others have explanatory power, and this paper offers an account of what makes a proof explanatory. This account is motivated by a wide range of examples ...


Ecological Laws And Their Promise Of Explanations, Viorel Pâslaru Jan 2016

Ecological Laws And Their Promise Of Explanations, Viorel Pâslaru

Viorel Pâslaru

Marcel Weber (1999) argued that the principle of competitive exclusion is a law of ecology that could explain phenomena (1) by direct application, or (2) by describing default states. Since he did not offer an account of explanation by direct application of laws, I offer an interpretation of explanation by direct application of laws based on a proposal by Elgin and Sober (2002). I show that in both cases it is the descriptions of mechanisms that explain phenomena, and not the laws. Lev Ginzburg and Mark Colyvan (2004) argued Malthus’ Law of Exponential Growth is the first law of ecology ...


Understanding And Its Role In Inquiry, Benjamin T. Rancourt Jan 2016

Understanding And Its Role In Inquiry, Benjamin T. Rancourt

Doctoral Dissertations

In this dissertation, I argue that understanding possesses unique epistemic value. I propose and defend a novel account of understanding that I call the management account of understanding, which is the view that an agent A understands a subject matter S just in case A has the ability to extract the relevant information and exploit it with the relevant cognitive capacities to answer questions in S. Since inquiry is the process of raising and answering questions, I argue that without understanding, it would be impossible to engage in successful inquiry. I argue that understanding is indispensable for effective cognition and ...


Ecological Laws And Their Promise Of Explanations, Viorel Pâslaru Jan 2016

Ecological Laws And Their Promise Of Explanations, Viorel Pâslaru

Philosophy Faculty Publications

Marcel Weber (1999) argued that the principle of competitive exclusion is a law of ecology that could explain phenomena (1) by direct application, or (2) by describing default states. Since he did not offer an account of explanation by direct application of laws, I offer an interpretation of explanation by direct application of laws based on a proposal by Elgin and Sober (2002). I show that in both cases it is the descriptions of mechanisms that explain phenomena, and not the laws. Lev Ginzburg and Mark Colyvan (2004) argued Malthus’ Law of Exponential Growth is the first law of ecology ...


Backwards Explanation And Unification, Richard Fry Jul 2015

Backwards Explanation And Unification, Richard Fry

SIUE Faculty Research, Scholarship, and Creative Activity

It is an open question whether we ever successfully explain earlier states by appealing to later ones, and, further, whether this is even possible. Typically, these two questions are answered in the same way: if we give and accept ‘backwards explana- tions,’ they must be possible; if they are impossible, we are right to reject them. I argue that backwards explanations are brittle—they fail if the future event does not occur— and this is part of the reason they are not accepted about the actual world. This does not mean, however, that they must be rejected entirely. I argue ...


Explaining Consciousness: An Argument Against Physicalism And An Argument For Theism, Benjamin Dobler Apr 2015

Explaining Consciousness: An Argument Against Physicalism And An Argument For Theism, Benjamin Dobler

Honors Projects

Consciousness, the mental phenomenon of our subjective experience of the world, has long been the subject of philosophical debate. The world we experience is full of sights, sounds, taste, smells, and feelings--phenomenal experiences. As the vehicle of phenomenal experience, consciousness is one of the most familiar and readily accessible features of our world, and perhaps the hardest to deny. Yet science tells us that our world is entirely composed of matter and energy, and physical phenomena can be explained as just that. In Part I, I argue that consciousness stands wholly at odds with this scientistic worldview, providing evidence against ...


Why Are There Descriptive Norms? Because We Looked For Them, Ryan Muldoon, Chiara Lisciandra, Stephan Hartmann Jul 2014

Why Are There Descriptive Norms? Because We Looked For Them, Ryan Muldoon, Chiara Lisciandra, Stephan Hartmann

Penn Social Norms Group (PennSoNG)

In this work, we present a mathematical model for the emergence of descriptive norms, where the individual decision problem is formalized with the standard Bayesian belief revision machinery. Previous work on the emergence of descriptive norms has relied on heuristic modeling. In this paper we show that with a Bayesian model we can provide a more general picture of the emergence of norms, which helps to motivate the assumptions made in heuristic models. In our model, the priors formalize the belief that a certain behavior is a regularity. The evidence is provided by other group members’ behavior and the likelihood ...


On The Relation Between Quantum Mechanical And Neo-Mechanistic Ontologies And Explanatory Strategies, Meinard Kuhlmann, Stuart Glennan Jul 2014

On The Relation Between Quantum Mechanical And Neo-Mechanistic Ontologies And Explanatory Strategies, Meinard Kuhlmann, Stuart Glennan

Stuart Glennan

Advocates of the New Mechanicism in philosophy of science argue that scientific explanation often consists in describing mechanisms responsible for natural phenomena. Despite its successes, one might think that this approach does not square with the ontological strictures of quantum mechanics. New Mechanists suppose that mechanisms are composed of objects with definite properties, which are interconnected via local causal interactions. Quantum mechanics calls these suppositions into question. Since mechanisms are hierarchical it appears that even macroscopic mechanisms must supervene on a set of “objects” that behave non- classically. In this paper we argue, in part by appeal to the theory ...


On The Relation Between Quantum Mechanical And Neo-Mechanistic Ontologies And Explanatory Strategies, Meinard Kuhlmann, Stuart Glennan May 2014

On The Relation Between Quantum Mechanical And Neo-Mechanistic Ontologies And Explanatory Strategies, Meinard Kuhlmann, Stuart Glennan

Scholarship and Professional Work - LAS

Advocates of the New Mechanicism in philosophy of science argue that scientific explanation often consists in describing mechanisms responsible for natural phenomena. Despite its successes, one might think that this approach does not square with the ontological strictures of quantum mechanics. New Mechanists suppose that mechanisms are composed of objects with definite properties, which are interconnected via local causal interactions. Quantum mechanics calls these suppositions into question. Since mechanisms are hierarchical it appears that even macroscopic mechanisms must supervene on a set of “objects” that behave non- classically. In this paper we argue, in part by appeal to the theory ...


Review Of The Puzzle Of Existence: Why Is There Something Rather Than Nothing?, Kenneth L. Pearce Jan 2014

Review Of The Puzzle Of Existence: Why Is There Something Rather Than Nothing?, Kenneth L. Pearce

Kenneth L Pearce

No abstract provided.


Philosophy, Medicine And Health Care - Where We Have Come From And Where We Are Going, Michael Loughlin, Robyn Bluhm, Jonathan Fuller, Stephen Burtow, Rose E. G. Upshur, Kirstin Borgerson, Maya J. Goldenberg, Elselijn Kingma Jan 2014

Philosophy, Medicine And Health Care - Where We Have Come From And Where We Are Going, Michael Loughlin, Robyn Bluhm, Jonathan Fuller, Stephen Burtow, Rose E. G. Upshur, Kirstin Borgerson, Maya J. Goldenberg, Elselijn Kingma

Philosophy Faculty Publications

The role of philosophy in discussions of clinical practice was once regarded by many as restricted to a very limited version of ‘medical ethics’, one that has been extensively criticized in the pages of this journal and elsewhere for being at once philosophically untenable and practically unhelpful [1–4]. While this uninspiring view of the nature and scope of applied philosophy has by no means been eradicated, over a number of years there has been a resurgence of interest in the philosophy of medicine and health care as an intellectually serious and practically significant enterprise. Controversies about evidence, value, clinical ...


The Completeness Of The Pragmatic Solution To Moore's Paradox In Belief: A Reply To Chan, John N. Williams Aug 2013

The Completeness Of The Pragmatic Solution To Moore's Paradox In Belief: A Reply To Chan, John N. Williams

Research Collection School of Social Sciences

Moore’s paradox in belief is the fact that beliefs of the form ‘p and I do not believe that p’ are ‘absurd’ yet possibly true. Writers on the paradox have nearly all taken the absurdity to be a form of irrationality. These include those who give what Timothy CHAN calls the ‘pragmatic solution’ to the paradox. This solution turns on the fact that having the Moorean belief falsifies its content. CHAN, who also takes the absurdity to be a form of irrationality, objects to this solution by arguing that it is circular and thus incomplete. This is because it ...


The Completeness Of The Pragmatic Solution To Moore's Paradox In Belief: A Reply To Chan, John Williams Jul 2013

The Completeness Of The Pragmatic Solution To Moore's Paradox In Belief: A Reply To Chan, John Williams

John N. WILLIAMS

Moore’s paradox in belief is the fact that beliefs of the form ‘p and I do not believe that p’ are ‘absurd’ yet possibly true. Writers on the paradox have nearly all taken the absurdity to be a form of irrationality. These include those who give what Timothy Chan calls the ‘pragmatic solution’ to the paradox. This solution turns on the fact that having the Moorean belief falsifies its content. Chan, who also takes the absurdity to be a form of irrationality, objects to this solution by arguing that it is circular and thus incomplete. This is because it ...


Argument And Explanation In Mathematics, Michel Dufour May 2013

Argument And Explanation In Mathematics, Michel Dufour

OSSA Conference Archive

Are there arguments in mathematics? Are there explanations in mathematics? Are there any connections between argument, proof and explanation? Highly controversial answers and arguments are reviewed. The main point is that in the case of a mathematical proof, the pragmatic criterion used to make a distinction between argument and explanation is likely to be insufficient for you may grant the conclusion of a proof but keep on thinking that the proof is not explanatory.


Causal Explanation Of Human Behavior In The Social Sciences, Maria R. Zavada May 2013

Causal Explanation Of Human Behavior In The Social Sciences, Maria R. Zavada

Philosophy Dissertations, Theses, & Student Research

The social sciences have something to offer our understanding of human behavior. However, the social sciences have been subjected to a great deal of criticism, both internally and externally. Cultural anthropology provides a microcosm of the problems within the social sciences and serves as an apt case study. There are many problems with the social sciences, some as fundamental as whether or not the social sciences are indeed sciences, and others that address specific issues with goals, methods, and data collection.

Using anthropology as a case study, I articulate the connection between the methodological problems in anthropology and the philosophical ...


The Completeness Of The Pragmatic Solution To Moore's Paradox In Belief: A Reply To Chan, John N. Williams Aug 2012

The Completeness Of The Pragmatic Solution To Moore's Paradox In Belief: A Reply To Chan, John N. Williams

John N. WILLIAMS

Moore’s paradox in belief is the fact that beliefs of the form ‘p and I do not believe that p’ are ‘absurd’ yet possibly true. Writers on the paradox have nearly all taken the absurdity to be a form of irrationality. These include those who give what Timothy CHAN calls the ‘pragmatic solution’ to the paradox. This solution turns on the fact that having the Moorean belief falsifies its content. CHAN, who also takes the absurdity to be a form of irrationality, objects to this solution by arguing that it is circular and thus incomplete. This is because it ...


The Burden Of Criticism, Jan Van Laar, Erik C.W. Krabbe, Marcelo Dascal May 2011

The Burden Of Criticism, Jan Van Laar, Erik C.W. Krabbe, Marcelo Dascal

OSSA Conference Archive

Some critical reactions hardly give clues to the arguer as to how to respond to them convinc-ingly. Other critical reactions convey some or even all of the considerations that make the critic critical of the arguer’s position and direct the arguer to defuse or to at least contend with them. First, an explication of the notion of a critical reaction will be provided, zooming in on the degree of ‘directiveness’ that a critical reaction displays. Second, it will be examined whether and to what extent there is a normative requirement to strive after criticism that is more than minimally ...


Simulation-Based Definitions Of Emergence, Alan Richard Baker Jan 2010

Simulation-Based Definitions Of Emergence, Alan Richard Baker

Philosophy Faculty Works

One approach to characterizing the elusive notion of emergence is to define that a property is emergent if and only if its presence can be derived but only by simulation. In this paper I investigate the pros and cons of this approach, focusing in particular on whether an appropriately distinct boundary can be drawn between simulation-based and non-simulation-based methods. I also examine the implications of this definition for the epistemological role of emergent properties in prediction and in explanation.


El Principio Socioantropico: La Conexión Libertad-Determinismo Y Una Nueva Estructura Explicativa Para Las Ciencias Sociales, Jorge Gibert-Galassi Jan 2008

El Principio Socioantropico: La Conexión Libertad-Determinismo Y Una Nueva Estructura Explicativa Para Las Ciencias Sociales, Jorge Gibert-Galassi

jorge gibert-galassi

No abstract provided.


Modalidades Explicativas Y Teoría Sociológica, Jorge Gibert-Galassi Dec 2007

Modalidades Explicativas Y Teoría Sociológica, Jorge Gibert-Galassi

jorge gibert-galassi

No abstract provided.


Worlds Are Colliding! Explaining The Fictional In Terms Of The Real, Andrew Kania Aug 2007

Worlds Are Colliding! Explaining The Fictional In Terms Of The Real, Andrew Kania

Philosophy Faculty Research

I discuss Gregory Currie’s taxonomy of explanations of the fictional. On the one hand, there is an important kind of relation between internal and external explanations of some fictional truths that Currie leaves out, where both are salient and yet in a relation of harmony with each other. On the other hand, I do not see that he has established that there is a genuine relation of tension between some pairs of internal and external explanations, and thus I question the usefulness of the category of collapse. I also consider a further kind of explanation: the exterior explanation.


Formalismo, Sistemismo Y Explicación, Jorge Gibert-Galassi Mar 2005

Formalismo, Sistemismo Y Explicación, Jorge Gibert-Galassi

jorge gibert-galassi

This essay discusses three axioms of sociopoietic theory from the point of view of philosophy of social science. The first axiom, its de-ontologised character, it is associated to theory formalism and it allows to question the validity of a factual theory that do not presuppose the reality. The second one, allow to discuss the pertinence of the social system concept adopted by the sociopoietic view. Finally, argue that a theory about something it is not possible without having an explanation about this "something", and it is asked how an epistemology of the event can acquired content excluding the radical determinism ...