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Unity of Science

Cambridge: Cambridge University Press (2021)

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  1. Non-Reductive Realization and the Powers-Based Subset Strategy.Jessica Wilson - 2011 - The Monist (Issue on Powers) 94 (1):121-154.
    I argue that an adequate account of non-reductive realization must guarantee satisfaction of a certain condition on the token causal powers associated with (instances of) realized and realizing entities---namely, what I call the 'Subset Condition on Causal Powers' (first introduced in Wilson 1999). In terms of states, the condition requires that the token powers had by a realized state on a given occasion be a proper subset of the token powers had by the state that realizes it on that occasion. (...)
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  • Non-Reductive Physicalism and Degrees of Freedom.Jessica M. Wilson - 2010 - British Journal for Philosophy of Science 61 (2):279-311.
    Some claim that Non- reductive Physicalism is an unstable position, on grounds that NRP either collapses into reductive physicalism, or expands into emergentism of a robust or ‘strong’ variety. I argue that this claim is unfounded, by attention to the notion of a degree of freedom—roughly, an independent parameter needed to characterize an entity as being in a state functionally relevant to its law-governed properties and behavior. I start by distinguishing three relations that may hold between the degrees of freedom (...)
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  • Non-Reductive Physicalism and Degrees of Freedom.Jessica Wilson - 2010 - British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 61 (2):279-311.
    Some claim that Non-reductive Physicalism is an unstable position, on grounds that NRP either collapses into reductive physicalism, or expands into emergentism of a robust or ‘strong’ variety. I argue that this claim is unfounded, by attention to the notion of a degree of freedom—roughly, an independent parameter needed to characterize an entity as being in a state functionally relevant to its law-governed properties and behavior. I start by distinguishing three relations that may hold between the degrees of freedom needed (...)
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  • Why Water is Not H2O, and Other Critiques of Essentialist Ontology From the Philosophy of Chemistry.Holly VandeWall - 2007 - Philosophy of Science 74 (5):906-919.
    Ellis argues that certain essential properties of objects in the world not only determine the nature of these objects but also how they will behave in any situation. In this paper I will critique Ellis's essentialism from the perspective of the philosophy of chemistry, arguing that our current knowledge of chemistry in fact does not lend itself to essentialist interpretations and that this seriously undercuts Ellis's project. In particular I will criticize two key distinctions Ellis draws between internal vs. external (...)
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  • The Chemistry of Substances and the Philosophy of Mass Terms.Jaap Van Brakel - 1986 - Synthese 69 (3):291-324.
  • Nagelian Reduction Beyond the Nagel Model.Raphael van Riel - 2011 - Philosophy of Science 78 (3):353-375.
    Nagel’s official model of theory-reduction and the way it is represented in the literature are shown to be incompatible with the careful remarks on the notion of reduction Nagel gave while developing his model. Based on these remarks, an alternative model is outlined which does not face some of the problems the official model faces. Taking the context in which Nagel developed his model into account, it is shown that the way Nagel shaped his model and, thus, its well-known deficiencies, (...)
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  • Chemistry and Physics: No Need for Metaphysical Glue. [REVIEW]Jaap Van Brakel - 2010 - Foundations of Chemistry 12 (2):123-136.
    Using the notorious bridge law “water is H 2 O” and the relation between molecular structure and quantum mechanics as examples, I argue that it doesn’t make sense to aim for specific definition(s) of intertheoretical or interdiscourse relation(s) between chemistry and physics (reduction, supervenience, what have you). Proposed definitions of interdiscourse and part-whole relations are interesting only if they provide insight in the variegated interconnected patchwork of theories and beliefs. There is “automatically” some sort of interdiscourse relation if different discourses (...)
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  • Microstructuralism and Macromolecules: The Case of Moonlighting Proteins. [REVIEW]Emma Tobin - 2009 - Foundations of Chemistry 12 (1):41-54.
    Microstructuralism in the philosophy of chemistry is the thesis that chemical kinds can be individuated in terms of their microstructural properties (Hendry in Philos Sci 73:864–875, 2006 ). Elements provide paradigmatic examples, since the atomic number should suffice to individuate the kind. In theory, Microstructuralism should also characterise higher-level chemical kinds such as molecules, compounds, and macromolecules based on their constituent atomic properties. In this paper, several microstructural theses are distinguished. An analysis of macromolecules such as moonlighting proteins suggests that (...)
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  • The Modal Status of Laws: In Defence of a Hybrid View.Tuomas E. Tahko - 2015 - Philosophical Quarterly 65 (260):509-528.
    Three popular views regarding the modal status of the laws of nature are discussed: Humean Supervenience, nomic necessitation, and scientific/dispositional essentialism. These views are examined especially with regard to their take on the apparent modal force of laws and their ability to explain that modal force. It will be suggested that none of the three views, at least in their strongest form, can be maintained if some laws are metaphysically necessary, but others are metaphysically contingent. Some reasons for thinking that (...)
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  • Natural Kind Essentialism Revisited.Tuomas E. Tahko - 2015 - Mind 124 (495):795-822.
    Recent work on Natural Kind Essentialism has taken a deflationary turn. The assumptions about the grounds of essentialist truths concerning natural kinds familiar from the Kripke-Putnam framework are now considered questionable. The source of the problem, however, has not been sufficiently explicated. The paper focuses on the Twin Earth scenario, and it will be demonstrated that the essentialist principle at its core (which I call IDENT)—that necessarily, a sample of a chemical substance, A, is of the same kind as another (...)
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  • Boundaries in Reality.Tuomas E. Tahko - 2012 - Ratio 25 (4):405-424.
    This paper defends the idea that there must be some joints in reality, some correct way to classify or categorize it. This may seem obvious, but we will see that there are at least three conventionalist arguments against this idea, as well as philosophers who have found them convincing. The thrust of these arguments is that the manner in which we structure, divide or carve up the world is not grounded in any natural, genuine boundaries in the world. Ultimately they (...)
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  • The Explanatory Role of Irreducible Properties.Michael Strevens - 2012 - Noûs 46 (4):754-780.
    I aim to reconcile two apparently conflicting theses: (a) Everything that can be explained, can be explained in purely physical terms, that is, using the machinery of fundamental physics, and (b) some properties that play an explanatory role in the higher level sciences are irreducible in the strong sense that they are physically undefinable: their nature cannot be described using the vocabulary of physics. I investigate the contribution that physically undefinable properties typically make to explanations in the high-level sciences, and (...)
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  • Refining the Causal Theory of Reference for Natural Kind Terms.P. Kyle Stanford & Philip Kitcher - 2000 - Philosophical Studies 97 (1):97-127.
  • Natural Kindness.Matthew H. Slater - 2015 - British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 66 (2):375-411.
    Philosophers have long been interested in a series of interrelated questions about natural kinds. What are they? What role do they play in science and metaphysics? How do they contribute to our epistemic projects? What categories count as natural kinds? And so on. Owing, perhaps, to different starting points and emphases, we now have at hand a variety of conceptions of natural kinds—some apparently better suited than others to accommodate a particular sort of inquiry. Even if coherent, this situation isn’t (...)
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  • Macromolecular Pluralism.Matthew H. Slater - 2009 - Philosophy of Science 76 (5):851-863.
    Different chemical species are often cited as paradigm examples of structurally delimited natural kinds. While classificatory monism may thus seem plausible for simple molecules, it looks less attractive for complex biological macromolecules. I focus on the case of proteins that are most plausibly individuated by their functions. Is there a single, objective count of proteins? I argue that the vagaries of function individuation infect protein classification. We should be pluralists about macromolecular classification.
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  • Conventionalism and the Contingency of Conventions.Alan Sidelle - 2009 - Noûs 43 (2):224-241.
    One common objection to Conventionalism about modality is that since it is contingent what our conventions are, the modal facts themselves will thereby be contingent. A standard reply is that Conventionalists can accept this, if they reject the S4 axiom, that what is possibly possible is possible. I first argue that this reply is inadequate, but then continue to argue that it is not needed, because the Conventionalist need not concede that the contingency of our conventions has any bearing on (...)
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  • An Alternative Approach to Unifying Chemistry with Quantum Mechanics.Vanessa A. Seifert - 2017 - Foundations of Chemistry 19 (3):209-222.
    Harold Kincaid in Individualism and the Unity of Science postulates a model of unity-without-reduction in order to accurately describe the relation between individualism and macroeconomics. I present this model and apply it to the description of the relation between chemistry and quantum mechanics. I argue that, when it comes to the description of molecular structure, chemistry and quantum mechanics are unified in Kincaid’s sense. Specifically, the two disciplines contribute to the formation of a unified body of knowledge with respect to (...)
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  • Doing Science, Writing Science.Jutta Schickore - 2008 - Philosophy of Science 75 (3):323-343.
    This article identifies a fundamental distinction in scientific practice: the mismatch between what scientists do and what they state they did when they communicate their findings in their publications. The insight that such a mismatch exists is not new. It was already implied in Hans Reichenbach's distinction between the contexts of discovery and justification, and it is taken for granted across the board in philosophy of science and science studies. But while there is general agreement that the mismatch exists, the (...)
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  • Unity As An Epistemic Virtue.Kit Patrick - 2018 - Erkenntnis 83 (5):983-1002.
    It's widely supposed that unification is an epistemic virtue: the degree to which a theory is unified contributes to its overall confirmation. However, this supposition has consequences which haven't been noted, and which undermine the leading accounts of unification. For, given Hempel's equivalence condition, any epistemic virtue must be such that logically equivalent theories must equally well unify any body of evidence, and logically equivalent bodies of evidence must be equally well unified by any theory. Yet the leading accounts of (...)
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  • Darwinian Metaphysics: Species and the Question of Essentialism.Samir Okasha - 2002 - Synthese 131 (2):191-213.
    Biologists and philosophers of biology typically regard essentialism about speciesas incompatible with modern Darwinian theory. Analytic metaphysicians such asKripke, Putnam and Wiggins, on the other hand, believe that their essentialist thesesare applicable to biological kinds. I explore this tension. I show that standard anti-essentialist considerations only show that species do not have intrinsic essential properties. I argue that while Putnam and Kripke do make assumptions that contradict received biological opinion, their model of natural kinds, suitably modified, is partially applicable to (...)
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  • Microessentialism: What is the Argument?Paul Needham - 2011 - Noûs 45 (1):1-21.
    According to microessentialism, it is necessary to resort to microstructure in order to adequately characterise chemical substances such as water. But the thesis has never been properly supported by argument. Kripke and Putnam, who originally proposed the thesis, suggest that a so-called stereotypical characterisation is not possible, whereas one in terms of microstructure is. However, the sketchy outlines given of stereotypical descriptions hardly support the impossibility claim. On the other hand, what naturally stands in contrast to microscopic description is description (...)
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  • Nagel's Analysis of Reduction: Comments in Defense as Well as Critique.Paul Needham - 2010 - Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part B: Studies in History and Philosophy of Modern Physics 41 (2):163-170.
    Despite all the criticism showered on Nagel’s classic account of reduction, it meets a fundamental desideratum in an analysis of reduction that is difficult to question, namely of providing for a proper identification of the reducing theory. This is not clearly accommodated in radically different accounts. However, the same feature leads me to question Nagel’s claim that the reducing theory can be separated from the putative bridge laws, and thus to question his notion of heterogeneous reduction. A further corollary to (...)
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  • Is Water a Mixure?: Bridging the Distinction Between Physical and Chemical Properties.Paul Needham - 2008 - Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part A 39 (1):66-77.
    Two inter-linked theses are defended in this paper. One is the Duhemian theme that a rigid distinction between physical and chemical properties cannot be upheld. Duhem maintained this view not because the latter are reducible to the former, but because if physics is to remain consistent with chemistry it must prove possible to expand it to accommodate new features, and a rigid distinction would be a barrier to this process. The second theme is that naturally occurring isotopic variants of water (...)
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  • Unificatory Explanation.Marco J. Nathan - 2017 - British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 68 (1).
    Philosophers have traditionally addressed the issue of scientific unification in terms of theoretical reduction. Reductive models, however, cannot explain the occurrence of unification in areas of science where successful reductions are hard to find. The goal of this essay is to analyse a concrete example of integration in biology—the developmental synthesis—and to generalize it into a model of scientific unification, according to which two fields are in the process of being unified when they become explanatorily relevant to each other. I (...)
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  • The Structure of Science.Ernest Nagel - 1961 - Les Etudes Philosophiques 17 (2):275-275.
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  • Unifying Scientific Theories.Margaret Morrison - 2001 - Mind 110 (440):1097-1102.
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  • Integrative Pluralism.Sandra D. Mitchell - 2002 - Biology and Philosophy 17 (1):55-70.
    The `fact' of pluralism in science is nosurprise. Yet, if science is representing andexplaining the structure of the oneworld, why is there such a diversity ofrepresentations and explanations in somedomains? In this paper I consider severalphilosophical accounts of scientific pluralismthat explain the persistence of bothcompetitive and compatible alternatives. PaulSherman's `Levels of Analysis' account suggeststhat in biology competition betweenexplanations can be partitioned by the type ofquestion being investigated. I argue that thisaccount does not locate competition andcompatibility correctly. I then defend anintegrative (...)
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  • Historical Kinds and the "Special Sciences".Ruth Garrett Millikan - 1999 - Philosophical Studies 95 (1-2):45-65.
    There are no "special sciences" in Fodor's sense. There is a large group of sciences, "historical sciences," that differ fundamentally from the physical sciences because they quantify over a different kind of natural or real kind, nor are the generalizations supported by these kinds exceptionless. Heterogeneity, however, is not characteristic of these kinds. That there could be an univocal empirical science that ranged over multiple realizations of a functional property is quite problematic. If psychological predicates name multiply realized functionalist properties, (...)
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  • What is a Criterion of Identity?E. J. Lowe - 1989 - Philosophical Quarterly 39 (154):1-21.
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  • Two Notions of Being: Entity and Essence.E. J. Lowe - 2008 - Royal Institute of Philosophy Supplement 62:23-48.
    s div class="title" a terTwo Notions of Being: Entity and Essence s /div a ter - Volume 62 - E. J. Lowe.
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  • New Work for a Theory of Universals.David K. Lewis - 1983 - Australasian Journal of Philosophy 61 (4):343-377.
  • Missing Elements and Missing Premises: A Combinatorial Argument for the Ontological Reduction of Chemistry.Robin Le Poidevin - 2005 - British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 56 (1):117-134.
    Does chemistry reduce to physics? If this means ‘Can we derive the laws of chemistry from the laws of physics?’, recent discussions suggest that the answer is ‘no’. But sup posing that kind of reduction—‘epistemological reduction’—to be impossible, the thesis of ontological reduction may still be true: that chemical properties are determined by more fundamental properties. However, even this thesis is threatened by some objections to the physicalist programme in the philosophy of mind, objections that generalize to the chemical case. (...)
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  • The Autonomy of Functional Biology: A Reply to Rosenberg.Marc Lange - 2004 - Biology and Philosophy 19 (1):93-109.
    Rosenberg has recently argued that explanations supplied by (what he calls) functional biology are mere promissory notes for macromolecular adaptive explanations. Rosenberg's arguments currently constitute one of the most substantial challenges to the autonomy, irreducibility, and indispensability of the explanations supplied by functional biology. My responses to Rosenberg's arguments will generate a novel account of the autonomy of functional biology. This account will turn on the relations between counterfactuals, scientific explanations, and natural laws. Crucially, in their treatment of the laws' (...)
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  • Abstraction and its Limits: Finding Space For Novel Explanation.Eleanor Knox - 2016 - Noûs 50 (1):41-60.
    Several modern accounts of explanation acknowledge the importance of abstraction and idealization for our explanatory practice. However, once we allow a role for abstraction, questions remain. I ask whether the relation between explanations at different theoretical levels should be thought of wholly in terms of abstraction, and argue that changes of the quantities in terms of which we describe a system can lead to novel explanations that are not merely abstractions of some more detailed picture. I use the example of (...)
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  • Explanatory Unification.Philip Kitcher - 1981 - Philosophy of Science 48 (4):507-531.
    The official model of explanation proposed by the logical empiricists, the covering law model, is subject to familiar objections. The goal of the present paper is to explore an unofficial view of explanation which logical empiricists have sometimes suggested, the view of explanation as unification. I try to show that this view can be developed so as to provide insight into major episodes in the history of science, and that it can overcome some of the most serious difficulties besetting the (...)
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  • Natural Kinds, Causal Profile and Multiple Constitution.Max Kistler - 2018 - Metaphysica 19 (1):113-135.
    The identity of a natural kind can be construed in terms of its causal profile. This conception is more appropriate to science than two alternatives. The identity of a natural kind is not determined by one causal role because one natural kind can have many causal roles and several functions and because some functions are shared by different kinds. Furthermore, the microstructuralist thesis is wrong: The identity of certain natural kinds is not determined by their microstructure. It is true that (...)
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  • Molecular Biology and the Unity of Science.Harold Kincaid - 1990 - Philosophy of Science 57 (4):575-593.
    Advances in molecular biology have generally been taken to support the claim that biology is reducible to chemistry. I argue against that claim by looking in detail at a number of central results from molecular biology and showing that none of them supports reduction because (1) their basic predicates have multiple realizations, (2) their chemical realization is context-sensitive and (3) their explanations often presuppose biological facts rather than eliminate them. I then consider the heuristic and confirmational implications of irreducibility and (...)
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  • Natural Kinds as Nodes in Causal Networks.Muhammad Khalidi - 2018 - Synthese 195 (4):1379-1396.
    In this paper I offer a unified causal account of natural kinds. Using as a starting point the widely held view that natural kind terms or predicates are projectible, I argue that the ontological bases of their projectibility are the causal properties and relations associated with the natural kinds themselves. Natural kinds are not just concatenations of properties but ordered hierarchies of properties, whose instances are related to one another as causes and effects in recurrent causal processes. The resulting account (...)
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  • Natural Kinds and Crosscutting Categories.Muhammad Ali Khalidi - 1998 - Journal of Philosophy 95 (1):33.
    There are many ways of construing the claim that some categories are more “natural" than others. One can ask whether a system of categories is innate or acquired by learning, whether it pertains to a natural phenomenon or to a social institution, whether it is lexicalized in natural language or requires a compound linguistic expression. This renders suspect any univocal answer to this question in any particular case. Yet another question one can ask, which some authors take to have a (...)
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  • Carving Nature at the Joints.Muhammad Ali Khalidi - 1993 - Philosophy of Science 60 (1):100-113.
    This paper discusses a philosophical issue in taxonomy. At least one philosopher has suggested thc taxonomic principle that scientific kinds are disjoint. An opposing position is dcfcndcd here by marshalling examples of nondisjoint categories which belong to different, cocxisting classification schcmcs. This dcnial of thc disjoinmcss principle can bc recast as thc claim that scientific classification is "int<-:rcst—rclativc". But why would anyone have held that scientific categories arc disjoint in the first place'? It is argued that this assumption is nccdcd (...)
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  • Can the Epistemic Value of Natural Kinds Be Explained Independently of Their Metaphysics?Catherine Kendig & John Grey - 2021 - British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 72 (2):359-376.
    The account of natural kinds as stable property clusters is premised on the possibility of separating the epistemic value of natural kinds from their underlying metaphysics. On that account, the co-instantiation of any sub-cluster of the properties associated with a given natural kind raises the probability of the co-instantiation of the rest, and this clustering of property instantiation is invariant under all relevant counterfactual perturbations. We argue that it is not possible to evaluate the stability of a cluster of properties (...)
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  • On Reduction.John G. Kemeny & Paul Oppenheim - 1968 - Journal of Symbolic Logic 33 (2):316-317.
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  • Bundle Theory with Kinds.Markku Keinänen & Tuomas E. Tahko - 2019 - Philosophical Quarterly 69 (277):838-857.
    Is it possible to get by with just one ontological category? We evaluate L.A. Paul's attempt to do so: the mereological bundle theory. The upshot is that Paul's attempt to construct a one category ontology may be challenged with some of her own arguments. In the positive part of the paper we outline a two category ontology with property universals and kind universals. We will also examine Paul's arguments against a version of universal bundle theory that takes spatiotemporal co-location instead (...)
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  • Chemical Substances and the Limits of Pluralism.Robin Findlay Hendry - 2011 - Foundations of Chemistry 14 (1):55-68.
    In this paper I investigate the relationship between vernacular kind terms and specialist scientific vocabularies. Elsewhere I have developed a defence of realism about the chemical elements as natural kinds. This defence depends on identifying the epistemic interests and theoretical conception of the elements that have suffused chemistry since the mid-eighteenth century. Because of this dependence, it is a discipline-specific defence, and would seem to entail important concessions to pluralism about natural kinds. I argue that making this kind of concession (...)
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  • The Function of General Laws in History.Carl Gustav Hempel - 1942 - Journal of Philosophy 39 (2):35-48.
    The classic logical positivist account of historical explanation, putting forward what is variously called the "regularity interpretation" (#Gardiner, The Nature of Historical Explanation), the "covering law model" (#Dray, Laws and Explanation in History), or the "deductive model" (Michael #Scriven, "Truisms as Grounds for Historical Explanations"). See also #Danto, Narration and Knowledge, for further criticisms of the model. Hempel formalizes historical explanation as involving (a) statements of determining (initial and boundary) conditions for the event to be explained, and (b) statements of (...)
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  • Studies in the Logic of Explanation.Carl G. Hempel & Paul Oppenheim - 1948 - Journal of Symbolic Logic 14 (2):133-133.
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  • Aspects of Scientific Explanation.Carl G. Hempel - 1965 - In Philosophy and Phenomenological Research. Free Press. pp. 504.
  • Levels of Reality.John Heil - 2003 - Ratio 16 (3):205–221.
    Philosophers and non-philosophers have been attracted to the idea that the world incorporates levels of being: higher-level items – ordinary objects, artifacts, human beings – depend on, but are not in any sense reducible to, items at lower levels. I argue that the motivation for levels stems from an implicit acceptance of a Picture Theory of language according to which we can ‘read off’ features of the world from ways we describe the world. Abandonment of the Picture Theory opens the (...)
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  • From an Ontological Point of View.John Heil - 2003 - Oxford University Press.
    From an Ontological Point of View is a highly original and accessible exploration of fundamental questions about what there is. John Heil discusses such issues as whether the world includes levels of reality; the nature of objects and properties; the demands of realism; what makes things true; qualities, powers, and the relation these bear to one another. He advances an account of the fundamental constituents of the world around us, and applies this account to problems that have plagued recent work (...)
  • Messy Chemical Kinds.Joyce C. Havstad - 2018 - British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 69 (3):719-743.
    Following Kripke and Putnam, the received view of chemical kinds has been a microstructuralist one. To be a microstructuralist about chemical kinds is to think that membership in said kinds is conferred by microstructural properties. Recently, the received microstructuralist view has been elaborated and defended, but it has also been attacked on the basis of complexities, both chemical and ontological. Here, I look at which complexities really challenge the microstructuralist view; at how the view itself might be made more complicated (...)
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