Model Explanation Versus Model-Induced Explanation

Foundations of Science 26 (4):1049-1074 (2021)
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Abstract

Scientists appeal to models when explaining phenomena. Such explanations are often dubbed model explanations or model-based explanations. But what are the precise conditions for ME? Are ME special explanations? In our paper, we first rebut two definitions of ME and specify a more promising one. Based on this analysis, we single out a related conception that is concerned with explanations that are induced from working with a model. We call them ‘model-induced explanations’. Second, we study three paradigmatic cases of alleged ME. We argue that all of them are MIE, upon closer examination. Third, we argue that this undermines the building consensus that model explanations are special explanations that, e.g., challenge the factivity of explanation. Instead, it suggests that what is special about models in science is the epistemology behind how models induce explanations.

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Author Profiles

Insa Lawler
University of North Carolina, Greensboro
Emily Sullivan
Utrecht University

References found in this work

Models in Science (2nd edition).Roman Frigg & Stephan Hartmann - 2021 - The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy.
Depth: An Account of Scientific Explanation.Michael Strevens - 2008 - Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press.
True Enough.Catherine Z. Elgin - 2017 - Cambridge: MIT Press.

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