This article discusses minimal model explanations, which we argue are distinct from various causal, mechanical, difference-making, and so on, strategies prominent in the philosophical literature. We contend that what accounts for the explanatory power of these models is not that they have certain features in common with real systems. Rather, the models are explanatory because of a story about why a class of systems will all display the same large-scale behavior because the details that distinguish them are irrelevant. This story (...) explains patterns across extremely diverse systems and shows how minimal models can be used to understand real systems. (shrink)
This paper analyzes two ways idealized biological models produce factive scientific understanding. I then argue that models can provide factive scientific understanding of a phenomenon without providing an accurate representation of the features of their real-world target system. My analysis of these cases also suggests that the debate over scientific realism needs to investigate the factive scientific understanding produced by scientists’ use of idealized models rather than the accuracy of scientific models themselves.
Deception is a useful methodological device for studying attitudes and behavior, but deceptive studies fail to fulfill the informed consent requirements in the U.S. federal regulations. This means that before they can be approved by Institutional Review Boards, they must satisfy the four regulatory conditions for a waiver or alteration of these requirements. To illustrate our interpretation, we apply the conditions to a recent study that used deception to show that subjects judged the same wine as more enjoyable when they (...) believed it had a higher price. (shrink)
A prominent approach to scientific explanation and modeling claims that for a model to provide an explanation it must accurately represent at least some of the actual causes in the event's causal history. In this paper, I argue that many optimality explanations present a serious challenge to this causal approach. I contend that many optimality models provide highly idealized equilibrium explanations that do not accurately represent the causes of their target system. Furthermore, in many contexts, it is in virtue of (...) their independence of causes that optimality models are able to provide a better explanation than competing causal models. Consequently, our account of explanation and modeling must expand beyond the causal approach. (shrink)
Many accounts of scientific modelling assume that models can be decomposed into the contributions made by their accurate and inaccurate parts. These accounts then argue that the inaccurate parts of the model can be justified by distorting only what is irrelevant. In this paper, I argue that this decompositional strategy requires three assumptions that are not typically met by our best scientific models. In response, I propose an alternative view in which idealized models are characterized as holistically distorted representations that (...) are justified by allowing for the application of various modelling techniques. (shrink)
Although C. A. Campbell's account of the problem of suffering is articulated in the context of making out a case for rational Theism, it does not stand or fall with the case for rational Theism. It has independent merit as a sustained effort of reason to grapple with the problem of whether the goodness and omnipotence of God are consistent with the prima facie badness of so much of the suffering that exists in God's world. Campbell's views on suffering are (...) to be found in On Selfhood and Godhood , pp. 287–306, and in an earlier article ‘Reason and the Problem of Suffering’ , published in Philosophy , x 1935, pp. 154–67. In the first section of what follows, I give a summary of Campbell's line of argument. In the second I offer some critical comments on certain aspects of his treatment. 1. (shrink)
In this paper, I first argue against various attempts to justify idealizations in scientific models that explain by showing that they are harmless and isolable distortions of irrelevant features. In response, I propose a view in which idealized models are characterized as providing holistically distorted representations of their target system. I then suggest an alternative way that idealized modeling can be justified by appealing to universality.
Highly idealized models, such as the Hawk-Dove game, are pervasive in biological theorizing. We argue that the process and motivation that leads to the introduction of various idealizations into these models is not adequately captured by Michael Weisberg’s taxonomy of three kinds of idealization. Consequently, a fourth kind of idealization is required, which we call hypothetical pattern idealization. This kind of idealization is used to construct models that aim to be explanatory but do not aim to be explanations.
Recently philosophers of science have begun to pay more attention to the use of highly idealized mathematical models in scientific theorizing. An important example of this kind of highly idealized modeling is the widespread use of optimality models within evolutionary biology. One way to understand the explanations provided by these models is as a censored causal explanation: an explanation that omits certain causal factors in order to focus on a modular subset of the causal processes that led to the explanandum. (...) In this paper, I first argue that the censored causal model approach fails to establish a permanent explanatory role for optimality models in biology and mischaracterizes the explanatory virtues of biological optimality modeling. In addition, I argue that many biological optimality explanations cannot be characterized as censored causal explanations. In response, I propose an alternative approach that analyzes optimality models’ reliance on synchronically representing a system’s constraints and tradeoffs as well as their employment of various kinds of idealization in order to provide equilibrium explanations. (shrink)
Shapiro and Sober claim that Walsh, Ariew, Lewens, and Matthen give a mistaken, a priori defense of natural selection and drift as epiphenomenal. Contrary to Shapiro and Sober’s claims, we first argue that WALM’s explanatory doctrine does not require a defense of epiphenomenalism. We then defend WALM’s explanatory doctrine by arguing that the explanations provided by the modern genetical theory of natural selection are ‘autonomous-statistical explanations’ analogous to Galton’s explanation of reversion to mediocrity and an explanation of the diffusion ofgases. (...) We then argue that whereas Sober’s theory of forces is an adequate description of Darwin’s theory, WALM’s explanatory doctrine is required to understand how themodern genetical theory of natural selection explains large-scale statistical regularities. 1 Introduction2 Shapiro and Sober’s ‘Epiphenomenalism Do’s and Don’ts’3 WALM’s Explanatory Doctrine4 Galton’s Autonomous-Statistical Explanation5 A Second Example: The Statistical Explanation of the Diffusion of Gases6 Distinguishing Two Theories of Evolution by Natural Selection7 A Possible Objection: Are Statistical Laws Sufficient for Explanation?8 Conclusion. (shrink)
Catherine Elgin has recently argued that a nonfactive conception of understanding is required to accommodate the epistemic successes of science that make essential use of idealizations and models. In this paper, I argue that the fact that our best scientific models and theories are pervasively inaccurate representations can be made compatible with a more nuanced form of scientific realism that I call Understanding Realism. According to this view, science aims at (and often achieves) factive scientific understanding of natural phenomena. I (...) contend that this factive scientific understanding is provided by grasping a set of true modal information about the phenomenon of interest. Furthermore, contrary to Elgin’s view, I argue that the facticity of this kind of scientific understanding can be separated from the inaccuracy of the models and theories used to produce it. (shrink)
In contrast to earlier views that argued for a particular kind of concept, several recent accounts have proposed that there are multiple distinct kinds of concepts, or that there is a plurality of concepts for each category. In this paper, I argue for a novel account of concepts as pluralistic hybrids. According to this view, concepts are pluralistic because there are several concepts for the same category whose use is heavily determined by context. In addition, concepts are hybrids because they (...) typically link together several different kinds of information that are used in the same cognitive processes. This alternative view accounts for the available empirical data, allows for greater cognitive flexibility than Machery's recent account, and overcomes several objections to traditional hybrid views. (shrink)
The number of studies examining visual perspective during retrieval has recently grown. However, the way in which perspective has been conceptualized differs across studies. Some studies have suggested perspective is experienced as either a first-person or a third-person perspective, whereas others have suggested both perspectives can be experienced during a single retrieval attempt. This aspect of perspective was examined across three studies, which used different measurement techniques commonly used in studies of perspective. Results suggest that individuals can experience more than (...) one perspective when recalling events. Furthermore, the experience of the two perspectives correlated differentially with ratings of vividness, suggesting that the two perspectives should not be considered in opposition of one another. We also found evidence of a gender effect in the experience of perspective, with females experiencing third-person perspectives more often than males. Future studies should allow for the experience of more than one perspective during retrieval. (shrink)
In this paper, we argue that rather than exclusively focusing on trying to determine if an idealized model fits a particular account of scientific explanation, philosophers of science should also work on directly analyzing various explanatory schemas that reveal the steps and justification involved in scientists’ use of highly idealized models to formulate explanations. We develop our alternative methodology by analyzing historically important cases of idealized statistical modeling that use a three-step explanatory schema involving idealization, mathematical operation, and explanatory interpretation.
Biologists and economists use models to study complex systems. This similarity between these disciplines has led to an interesting development: the borrowing of various components of model-based theorizing between the two domains. A major recent example of this strategy is economists’ utilization of the resources of evolutionary biology in order to construct models of economic systems. This general strategy has come to be called evolutionary economics and has been a source of much debate among economists. Although philosophers have developed literatures (...) on the nature of models and modeling, the unique issues surrounding this kind of interdisciplinary model building have yet to be independently investigated. In this paper, we utilize evolutionary economics as a case study in the investigation of more general issues concerning interdisciplinary modeling. We begin by critiquing the distinctions currently used within the evolutionary economics literature and propose an alternative carving of the conceptual terrain. We then argue that the three types of evolutionary economics we distinguish capture distinctions that will be important whenever resources of model-based theorizing are borrowed across distinct scientific domains. Our analysis of these model-building strategies identifies several of the unique methodological and philosophical issues that confront interdisciplinary modeling. (shrink)
Concepts are the constituents of thoughts. Therefore, concepts are vital to any theory of cognition. However, despite their widely accepted importance, there is little consensus about the nature and origin of concepts. Thanks to the work of Lawrence Barsalou, Jesse Prinz and others concept empiricism has been gaining momentum within the philosophy and psychology literature. Concept empiricism maintains that all concepts are copies, or combinations of copies, of perceptual representations—that is, all concepts are couched in the codes of perceptual representation (...) systems. It is widely agreed that any satisfactory theory of concepts must account for how concepts semantically compose (the compositionality requirement) and explain how their intentional content is determined (the content determination requirement). In this paper, I argue that concept empiricism has serious problems satisfying these two requirements. Therefore, although stored perceptual representations may facilitate some traditionally conceptual tasks, concepts should not be identified with copies of perceptual representations. (shrink)
Elite athletes, coaches and high-performance staff are exposed to a range of stressors that have been shown to increase their susceptibility to experiencing mental ill-health. Despite this, athletes may be less inclined than the general population to seek support for their mental health due to stigma, perceptions of limited psychological safety within sport to disclose mental health difficulties and/or fears of help-seeking signifying weakness in the context of high performance sport. Guidance on the best ways to promote mental health within (...) sporting environments is increasing, though current frameworks and position statements require greater focus on a whole of system approach, in which the needs of athlete, coaches and high-performance staff are considered within the context of the broader ecological system in which they operate and perform. This paper synthesizes existing research, reviewed for translatability by mental health professionals working in elite sport, to provide an evidence-informed framework with real world utility to promote mentally healthy environments for all stakeholders in elite sporting organizations, from athletes through to administrators. Recommendations are provided to positively impact the mental wellbeing of athletes and support staff, which may in turn influence athletic performance. This framework is intended to provide sporting organizations with evidence-informed or best practice principles on which they can develop or progress their policies to support mental health promotion and prevent the onset of mental health difficulties. It is intended that the framework can be adapted or tailored by elite sporting organizations based upon their unique cultural, contextual and resourcing circumstances. (shrink)
The US neutrino community gathered at the Workshop on the Intermediate Neutrino Program at Brookhaven National Laboratory February 4-6, 2015 to explore opportunities in neutrino physics over the next five to ten years. Scientists from particle, astroparticle and nuclear physics participated in the workshop. The workshop examined promising opportunities for neutrino physics in the intermediate term, including possible new small to mid-scale experiments, US contributions to large experiments, upgrades to existing experiments, R&D plans and theory. The workshop was organized into (...) two sets of parallel working group sessions, divided by physics topics and technology. Physics working groups covered topics on Sterile Neutrinos, Neutrino Mixing, Neutrino Interactions, Neutrino Properties and Astrophysical Neutrinos. Technology sessions were organized into Theory, Short-Baseline Accelerator Neutrinos, Reactor Neutrinos, Detector R&D and Source, Cyclotron and Meson Decay at Rest sessions.This report summarizes discussion and conclusions from the workshop. (shrink)
It is often claimed that Spinoza regards aesthetic values as inherently subjective and relative. I suggest in my opening section that this reading is derived from Leibniz's misconception of Spinoza's method, and go on to develop a spinozistic account of aesthetic experience which is relational, but which sees it as rooted in human sensibility (imagination). In the closing section I take up the issue of intersubjective valuation, and the question how aesthetic values are shared within the human community. I suggest (...) also that Spinoza's somewhat out-of-fashion approach to aesthetic valuation through the concepts of 'beauty' and 'well-being' are worthy of further attention and development by contemporary aestheticians. (shrink)
The purpose of this valuable book is to consider recent cultural trends in bioethics from a Catholic perspective. Bioethics is intended for a lay audience interested in understanding bioethical issues from a Catholic perspective.
One of the obstacles facing massive modularity is how a pervasively modular mind might generate non-domain-specific thoughts by integrating the content produced by various domain-specific modules. Peter Carruthers has recently argued that the operations of the language faculty are constitutive of the process by which the human mind is able to integrate content from heterogeneous conceptual domains. In this article, I first argue that Carruthers's data do not provide support for either of two possible interpretations of his thesis. In addition, (...) I provide empirical and theoretical reasons for thinking content integration is performed external to the language faculty. (shrink)
Moral hypocrisy is motivation to appear moral yet, if possible, avoid the cost of actually being moral. In business, moral hypocrisy allows one to engender trust, solve the commitment problem, and still relentlessly pursue personal gain. Indicating the power of this motive, research has provided clear and consistent evidence that, given the opportunity, many people act to appear fair (e.g., they flip a coin to distribute resources between themselves and another person) without actually being fair (they accept the flip only (...) if it favors themselves). New evidence also indicates the power of moral hypocrisy in a situation more obviously relevant to business, resource allocation when one party has information about relative resource value that the other does not. Characteristics of modern business situations likely to encourage moral hypocrisy are outlined. We conclude that moral hypocrisy is not only a pragmatic virtue in modern business but is also fast becoming a prescriptive one. (shrink)
Both ecologists and statistical physicists use a variety of highly idealized models to study active matter and self-organizing critical phenomena. In this paper, I show how universality classes play a crucial role in justifying the application of highly idealized ‘minimal’ models to explain and understand the critical behaviors of active matter systems across a wide range of scales and scientific fields. Appealing to universality enables us to see why the same minimal models can be used to explain and understand behaviors (...) across these different systems despite drastic differences in the causes and mechanisms responsible for the behaviors of interest. After analyzing these cases in detail, I argue that accounts that focus on identifying common causes or mechanisms in order to explain patterns are unable to accommodate these cases. In contrast, I argue that the justification for using these minimal models is that they are within the same universality class as real systems whose causes and mechanisms are known to be different. I also use these cases to identify several different kinds of explanatory autonomy that have important implications for how scientists ought to approach the modeling of multiscale phenomena. (shrink)
A plausible thought about vagueness is that it involves semantic incompleteness. To say that a predicate is vague is to say (at the very least) that its extension is incompletely specified. Where there is incomplete specification of extension there is indeterminacy, an indeterminacy between various ways in which the specification of the predicate might be completed or sharpened. In this paper we show that this idea is bound to founder by presenting an argument to the effect that there are vague (...) predicates which cannot be sharpened in such a way as to meet certain basic constraints (of penumbral connection and public accessibility) that must be imposed on the very notion of a sharpening. (shrink)
The concept of explanation is central to scientific practice. However, scientists explain phenomena in very different ways. That is, there are many different kinds of explanation; e.g. causal, mechanistic, statistical, or equilibrium explanations. In light of the myriad kinds of explanation identified in the literature, most philosophers of science have adopted some kind of explanatory pluralism. While pluralism about explanation seems plausible, it faces a dilemma Explanation beyond causation, Oxford University Press, Oxford, pp 39–56, 2018). Either there is nothing that (...) unifies all instances of scientific explanation that makes them count as explanations, or there is some set of unifying features, which seems incompatible with explanatory pluralism. Different philosophers have adopted different horns of this dilemma. Some argue that no unified account of explanation is possible. Others suggest that there is a set of necessary features that can unify all explanations under a single account Explanation beyond causation, Oxford University Press, Oxford, pp 74–95, 2018; Strevens in Depth: an account of scientific explanation, Harvard University Press, Cambridge, 2008). In this paper, we argue that none of the features identified by existing accounts of explanation are necessary for all explanations. However, we argue that a unified account can still be provided that accommodates pluralism. This can be accomplished, we argue, by reconceiving of scientific explanation as a cluster concept: there are multiple subsets of features that are sufficient for providing an explanation, but no single feature is necessary for all explanations. Reconceiving of explanation as a cluster concept not only accounts for the diversity of kinds of explanations, but also accounts for the widespread disagreement in the explanation literature and enables explanatory pluralism to avoid Pincock’s dilemma. (shrink)
The _Nicomachean Ethics_ is one of Aristotle’s most widely read and influential works. Ideas central to ethics—that happiness is the end of human endeavor, that moral virtue is formed through action and habituation, and that good action requires prudence—found their most powerful proponent in the person medieval scholars simply called “the Philosopher.” Drawing on their intimate knowledge of Aristotle’s thought, Robert C. Bartlett and Susan D. Collins have produced here an English-language translation of the _Ethics_ that is as remarkably faithful (...) to the original as it is graceful in its rendering. Aristotle is well known for the precision with which he chooses his words, and in this elegant translation his work has found its ideal match. Bartlett and Collins provide copious notes and a glossary providing context and further explanation for students, as well as an introduction and a substantial interpretive essay that sketch central arguments of the work and the seminal place of Aristotle’s _Ethics_ in his political philosophy as a whole. The _Nicomachean Ethics_ has engaged the serious interest of readers across centuries and civilizations—of peoples ancient, medieval, and modern; pagan, Christian, Muslim, and Jewish—and this new edition will take its place as the standard English-language translation. (shrink)