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Models, robustness, and non-causal explanation: a foray into cognitive science and biology

Irvine, Elizabeth 2015. Models, robustness, and non-causal explanation: a foray into cognitive science and biology. Synthese 192 (12) , pp. 3943-3959. 10.1007/s11229-014-0524-0

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Abstract

This paper is aimed at identifying how a model’s explanatory power is constructed and identified, particularly in the practice of template-based modeling (Humphreys, Philos Sci 69:1–11, 2002; Extending ourselves: computational science, empiricism, and scientific method, 2004), and what kinds of explanations models constructed in this way can provide. In particular, this paper offers an account of non-causal structural explanation that forms an alternative to causal–mechanical accounts of model explanation that are currently popular in philosophy of biology and cognitive science. Clearly, defences of non-causal explanation are far from new (e.g. Batterman, Br J Philos Sci 53:21–38, 2002a; The devil in the details: asymptotic reasoning in explanation, reduction, and emergence, 2002b; Pincock, Noûs 41:253–275, 2007; Mathematics and scientific representation 2012; Rice, Noûs. doi:10.1111/nous.12042, 2013; Biol Philos 27:685–703, 2012), so the targets here are focused on a particular type of robust phenomenon and how strong invariance to interventions can block a range of causal explanations. By focusing on a common form of model construction, the paper also ties functional or computational style explanations found in cognitive science and biology more firmly with explanatory practices across model-based science in general.

Item Type: Article
Date Type: Publication
Status: Published
Schools: English, Communication and Philosophy
Subjects: P Language and Literature > P Philology. Linguistics
Q Science > Q Science (General)
Publisher: Springer
ISSN: 0039-7857
Last Modified: 04 Jun 2017 09:25
URI: http://orca.cf.ac.uk/id/eprint/95017

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