Why do Spatiotemporally Restricted Regularities Explain in the Social Sciences?

British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 63 (1):1-26 (2012)
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Employing a well-known local regularity from macroeconomics, the Phillips curve, I examine Woodward’s ([2000], [2003]) account of the explanatory power of such historically restricted generalizations and the mathematical models with which they are sometimes associated. The article seeks to show that, pace Woodward, to be explanatory such generalizations need to be underwritten by more fundamental ones, and that rational choice theory would not avail in this case to provide the required underwriting. Examining how such explanatory restricted regularities are underwritten in biology—by unrestricted Darwinian regularities—provides the basis for an argument that Darwinian regularities serve the same function in human affairs. The general argument for this claim requires, inter alia , that we accept some version or other of a theory of memes. The article concludes by clearing the field of some prominent objections to the existence of memes, and extracting some policy implications from the persistence and acceleration of arms races in human affairs



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Alex Rosenberg
Duke University

References found in this work

Knowing One’s Own Mind.Donald Davidson - 1987 - Proceedings and Addresses of the American Philosophical Association 60 (3):441-458.

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