19 found
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  1. Constitutive relevance & mutual manipulability revisited.Carl F. Craver, Stuart Glennan & Mark Povich - 2021 - Synthese 199 (3-4):8807-8828.
    An adequate understanding of the ubiquitous practice of mechanistic explanation requires an account of what Craver termed “constitutive relevance.” Entities or activities are constitutively relevant to a phenomenon when they are parts of the mechanism responsible for that phenomenon. Craver’s mutual manipulability account extended Woodward’s account of manipulationist counterfactuals to analyze how interlevel experiments establish constitutive relevance. Critics of MM argue that applying Woodward’s account to this philosophical problem conflates causation and constitution, thus rendering the account incoherent. These criticisms, we (...)
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  2. The Narrow Ontic Counterfactual Account of Distinctively Mathematical Explanation.Mark Povich - 2021 - British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 72 (2):511-543.
    An account of distinctively mathematical explanation (DME) should satisfy three desiderata: it should account for the modal import of some DMEs; it should distinguish uses of mathematics in explanation that are distinctively mathematical from those that are not (Baron [2016]); and it should also account for the directionality of DMEs (Craver and Povich [2017]). Baron’s (forthcoming) deductive-mathematical account, because it is modelled on the deductive-nomological account, is unlikely to satisfy these desiderata. I provide a counterfactual account of DME, the Narrow (...)
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  3. The directionality of distinctively mathematical explanations.Carl F. Craver & Mark Povich - 2017 - Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part A 63:31-38.
    In “What Makes a Scientific Explanation Distinctively Mathematical?” (2013b), Lange uses several compelling examples to argue that certain explanations for natural phenomena appeal primarily to mathematical, rather than natural, facts. In such explanations, the core explanatory facts are modally stronger than facts about causation, regularity, and other natural relations. We show that Lange's account of distinctively mathematical explanation is flawed in that it fails to account for the implicit directionality in each of his examples. This inadequacy is remediable in each (...)
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  4. (A Little) Quantified Modal Logic for Normativists.Mark Povich - forthcoming - Analysis.
    Burgess (1997), building on Quine (1953), convincingly argued that claims in quantified modal logic cannot be understood as synonymous with or logically equivalent to claims about the analyticity of certain sentences. According to modal normativism, metaphysically necessary claims instead express or convey our actual semantic rules. In this paper, I show how the normativist can use Sidelle’s (1992a, 1995) neglected work on rigidity to account for two important phenomena in quantified modal logic: the necessity of identity and the substitutivity of (...)
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  5. Minimal Models and the Generalized Ontic Conception of Scientific Explanation.Mark Povich - 2018 - British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 69 (1):117-137.
    Batterman and Rice ([2014]) argue that minimal models possess explanatory power that cannot be captured by what they call ‘common features’ approaches to explanation. Minimal models are explanatory, according to Batterman and Rice, not in virtue of accurately representing relevant features, but in virtue of answering three questions that provide a ‘story about why large classes of features are irrelevant to the explanandum phenomenon’ ([2014], p. 356). In this article, I argue, first, that a method (the renormalization group) they propose (...)
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  6. Mechanistic Levels, Reduction, and Emergence.Mark Povich & Carl F. Craver - 2017 - In Stuart Glennan & Phyllis McKay Illari (eds.), The Routledge Handbook of Mechanisms and Mechanical Philosophy. Routledge. pp. 185-97.
    We sketch the mechanistic approach to levels, contrast it with other senses of “level,” and explore some of its metaphysical implications. This perspective allows us to articulate what it means for things to be at different levels, to distinguish mechanistic levels from realization relations, and to describe the structure of multilevel explanations, the evidence by which they are evaluated, and the scientific unity that results from them. This approach is not intended to solve all metaphysical problems surrounding physicalism. Yet it (...)
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  7. Modality and constitution in distinctively mathematical explanations.Mark Povich - 2020 - European Journal for Philosophy of Science 10 (3):1-10.
    Lange argues that some natural phenomena can be explained by appeal to mathematical, rather than natural, facts. In these “distinctively mathematical” explanations, the core explanatory facts are either modally stronger than facts about ordinary causal law or understood to be constitutive of the physical task or arrangement at issue. Craver and Povich argue that Lange’s account of DME fails to exclude certain “reversals”. Lange has replied that his account can avoid these directionality charges. Specifically, Lange argues that in legitimate DMEs, (...)
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  8. Mechanistic Explanation in Psychology.Mark Povich - forthcoming - In Hank Stam & Huib Looren De Jong (eds.), The SAGE Handbook of Theoretical Psychology. (Eds.) Hank Stam and Huib Looren de Jong. Sage.
    Philosophers of psychology debate, among other things, which psychological models, if any, are (or provide) mechanistic explanations. This should seem a little strange given that there is rough consensus on the following two claims: 1) a mechanism is an organized collection of entities and activities that produces, underlies, or maintains a phenomenon, and 2) a mechanistic explanation describes, represents, or provides information about the mechanism producing, underlying, or maintaining the phenomenon to be explained (i.e. the explanandum phenomenon) (Bechtel and Abrahamsen (...)
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  9. Mechanisms and Model-Based Functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging.Mark Povich - 2015 - Philosophy of Science 82 (5):1035-1046.
    Mechanistic explanations satisfy widely held norms of explanation: the ability to manipulate and answer counterfactual questions about the explanandum phenomenon. A currently debated issue is whether any nonmechanistic explanations can satisfy these explanatory norms. Weiskopf argues that the models of object recognition and categorization, JIM, SUSTAIN, and ALCOVE, are not mechanistic yet satisfy these norms of explanation. In this article I argue that these models are mechanism sketches. My argument applies recent research using model-based functional magnetic resonance imaging, a novel (...)
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  10.  73
    Linnebo on Analyticity and Thin Existence.Mark Povich - forthcoming - Philosophia Mathematica.
    In his groundbreaking book, Thin Objects, Linnebo (2018) argues for an account of neo-Fregean abstraction principles and thin existence that does not rely on analyticity or conceptual rules. It instead relies on a metaphysical notion he calls “sufficiency”. In this short discussion, I defend the analytic or conceptual rule account of thin existence.
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  11. A Conventionalist Account of Distinctively Mathematical Explanation.Mark Povich - 2023 - Philosophical Problems in Science 74:171–223.
    Distinctively mathematical explanations (DMEs) explain natural phenomena primarily by appeal to mathematical facts. One important question is whether there can be an ontic account of DME. An ontic account of DME would treat the explananda and explanantia of DMEs as ontic structures and the explanatory relation between them as an ontic relation (e.g., Pincock 2015, Povich 2021). Here I present a conventionalist account of DME, defend it against objections, and argue that it should be considered ontic. Notably, if indeed it (...)
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  12. A Scheme Foiled: A Critique of Baron's Account of Extra-mathematical Explanation.Mark Povich - 2023 - Mind 132 (526):479–492.
    Extra-mathematical explanations explain natural phenomena primarily by appeal to mathematical facts. Philosophers disagree about whether there are extra-mathematical explanations, the correct account of them if they exist, and their implications (e.g., for the philosophy of scientific explanation and for the metaphysics of mathematics) (Baker 2005, 2009; Bangu 2008; Colyvan 1998; Craver and Povich 2017; Lange 2013, 2016, 2018; Mancosu 2008; Povich 2019, 2020; Steiner 1978). In this discussion note, I present three desiderata for any account of extra-mathematical explanation and argue (...)
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  13. Model-based Cognitive Neuroscience: Multifield Mechanistic Integration in Practice.Mark Povich - 2019 - Theory & Psychology 5 (29):640–656.
    Autonomist accounts of cognitive science suggest that cognitive model building and theory construction (can or should) proceed independently of findings in neuroscience. Common functionalist justifications of autonomy rely on there being relatively few constraints between neural structure and cognitive function (e.g., Weiskopf, 2011). In contrast, an integrative mechanistic perspective stresses the mutual constraining of structure and function (e.g., Piccinini & Craver, 2011; Povich, 2015). In this paper, I show how model-based cognitive neuroscience (MBCN) epitomizes the integrative mechanistic perspective and concentrates (...)
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  14. Social Knowledge and Supervenience Revisited.Mark Povich - 2018 - Erkenntnis 83 (5):1033-1043.
    Bird’s Essays in Collective Epistemology, Oxford University Press, Oxford, 2014) account of social knowledge denies that scientific social knowledge supervenes solely on the mental states of individuals. Lackey objects that SK cannot accommodate a knowledge-action principle and the role of group defeaters. I argue that Lackey’s knowledge-action principle is ambiguous. On one disambiguation, it is false; on the other, it is true but poses no threat to SK. Regarding group defeaters, I argue that there are at least two options available (...)
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  15. Information and explanation: an inconsistent triad and solution.Mark Povich - 2021 - European Journal for Philosophy of Science 11 (2):1-17.
    An important strand in philosophy of science takes scientific explanation to consist in the conveyance of some kind of information. Here I argue that this idea is also implicit in some core arguments of mechanists, some of whom are proponents of an ontic conception of explanation that might be thought inconsistent with it. However, informational accounts seem to conflict with some lay and scientific commonsense judgments and a central goal of the theory of explanation, because information is relative to the (...)
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    Correction to: Constitutive relevance & mutual manipulability revisited.Carl F. Craver, Stuart Glennan & Mark Povich - 2021 - Synthese 199 (3):8829-8829.
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  17. Rules to Infinity: The Normative Role of Mathematics in Scientific Explanation.Mark Povich - 2024 - Oxford University Press USA.
    [EDIT: This book will be published open access. Production is taking longer than expected but I will post the whole book sometime this summer.] One central aim of science is to provide explanations of natural phenomena. What role(s) does mathematics play in achieving this aim? How does mathematics contribute to the explanatory power of science? Rules to Infinity defends the thesis, common though perhaps inchoate among many members of the Vienna Circle, that mathematics contributes to the explanatory power of science (...)
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  18. Because without Cause: Non-Causal Explanations in Science and Mathematics. [REVIEW]Mark Povich & Carl F. Craver - 2018 - Philosophical Review 127 (3):422-426.
    Lange’s collection of expanded, mostly previously published essays, packed with numerous, beautiful examples of putatively non-causal explanations from biology, physics, and mathematics, challenges the increasingly ossified causal consensus about scientific explanation, and, in so doing, launches a new field of philosophic investigation. However, those who embraced causal monism about explanation have done so because appeal to causal factors sorts good from bad scientific explanations and because the explanatory force of good explanations seems to derive from revealing the relevant causal (or (...)
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  19. Review of Stavros Ioannidis and Stathis Psillos, Mechanisms in Science: Method or Metaphysics?[REVIEW]Mark Povich - forthcoming - Philosophy of Science.