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Adeel, M. Ashraf, , . Evolution of Quine’s Thinking on the Thesis of Underdetermination and Scott Soames’s Accusation of Paradoxicality
2015, HOPOS: The Journal of the International Society for the History of Philosophy of Science 5(1): 56-69.
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Added by: Laura Jimenez, Contributed by:

Abstract: Scott Soames argues that interpreted in the light of Quine’s holistic verificationism, Quine’s thesis of underdetermination leads to a contradiction. It is contended here that if we pay proper attention to the evolution of Quine’s thinking on the subject, particularly his criterion of theory individuation, Quine’s thesis of underdetermination escapes Soames’ charge of paradoxicality.

Comment: Good as a secondary reading for those who are confident with Quine’s thesis of underdetermination. Recomended for postgraduate courses in philosophy of science.

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Alexandrova, Anna, , . Making Models Count
2008, Philosophy of Science 75(3): 383-404.
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Abstract: What sort of claims do scientific models make and how do these claims then underwrite empirical successes such as explanations and reliable policy interventions? In this paper I propose answers to these questions for the class of models used throughout the social and biological sciences, namely idealized deductive ones with a causal interpretation. I argue that the two main existing accounts misrepresent how these models are actually used, and propose a new account.

Comment: A good exploration of the role of models in scientific practice. Provides a good overview of the main theories about models, and some objections to them, before suggesting an alternative. Good use of concrete examples, presented very clearly. Suitable for undergraduate teaching. Would form a useful part of an examination of modelling in philosophy of science.

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Anderson, Elizabeth, , . Feminist Epistemology and Philosophy of Science
2015, Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy.
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Abstract: Feminist epistemology and philosophy of science studies the ways in which gender does and ought to influence our conceptions of knowledge, the knowing subject, and practices of inquiry and justification. It identifies ways in which dominant conceptions and practices of knowledge attribution, acquisition, and justification systematically disadvantage women and other subordinated groups, and strives to reform these conceptions and practices so that they serve the interests of these groups. Various practitioners of feminist epistemology and philosophy of science argue that dominant knowledge practices disadvantage women by (1) excluding them from inquiry, (2) denying them epistemic authority, (3) denigrating their ‘feminine’ cognitive styles and modes of knowledge, (4) producing theories of women that represent them as inferior, deviant, or significant only in the ways they serve male interests, (5) producing theories of social phenomena that render women’s activities and interests, or gendered power relations, invisible, and (6) producing knowledge (science and technology) that is not useful for people in subordinate positions, or that reinforces gender and other social hierarchies. Feminist epistemologists trace these failures to flawed conceptions of knowledge, knowers, objectivity, and scientific methodology. They offer diverse accounts of how to overcome these failures. They also aim to (1) explain why the entry of women and feminist scholars into different academic disciplines, especially in biology and the social sciences, has generated new questions, theories, and methods, (2) show how gender and feminist values and perspectives have played a causal role in these transformations, (3) promote theories that aid egalitarian and liberation movements, and (4) defend these developments as cognitive, not just social, advances.

Comment: A very detailed primer on feminist epistemology and philosophy of science. Covers a wide range of topics and issues, its length is such that it would probably be best to assign specific sections that are of interest rather than reading the whole thing. Useful as a preliminary introduction to the topics covered, and also offers a good summary of objections to the views presented.

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Attfield, Robin, Robin Attfield, Attfield, Kate. The Concept of ‘Gaia’
2016, eLS. electronic Encyclopedia of the Life Sciences
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Added by: Björn Freter, Contributed by: Robin Attfield

Abstract: The Gaia theory of James Lovelock proposes that the Earth is a self-regulating system, or super-organism, maintaining conditions hospitable to contemporary planetary biota. Objections to this theory, concerning its alleged untestability and circularity, are considered and countered. Favourable evidence includes Lovelock’s daisyworld model of a planet regulating its own temperatures and thus maintaining homeostasis, and his discoveries of actual regulatory mechanisms such as the biological generation of dimethyl sulphide, which removes sulphur from the oceans and seeds clouds whose albedo reduces solar radiation (a negative feedback mechanism). After some decades of scepticism, sections of the scientific community have partially endorsed Gaia theory, accepting that the Earth system behaves as if self-regulating. Whether or not this theory is acceptable in full, it has drawn attention to the need for preserving planetary biological cycles and for the planetary dimension to be incorporated in ethical decision-making, and thus for a planetary ethic.

Comment: This interdisciplinary survey of the Gaia hypothesis, its critics and its supporters, could be used in Philosophy of Science or Philosophy of Biology classes to clarify the concept of Gaia, which is often presented too vaguely by those who have not considered issues such as whether this hypothesis is falsifiable or not; it could also be used in Ethics classes because of its section on Gaian ethics. We show how Lovelock has devised indirect ways of testing this hypothesis (or better, the Gaia theory), how a critic (Kirchner) has presented it as either falsifiable but unsurprising or unfalsifiable and thus useless, and how a supporter, Tim Lenton has sought to explain how it can be reconciled with Darwinian evolution. Finally we show how elements of the theory have been endorsed by a scientific conference, but other aspects, such as the purposiveness of Gaia, were not endorsed.

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Bechtel, William P., , Jennifer Mundale. Multiple realizability revisited: Linking cognitive and neural states
1999, Philosophy of Science 66 (2): 175-207.
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Abstract: The claim of the multiple realizability of mental states by brain states has been a major feature of the dominant philosophy of mind of the late 20th century. The claim is usually motivated by evidence that mental states are multiply realized, both within humans and between humans and other species. We challenge this contention by focusing on how neuroscientists differentiate brain areas. The fact that they rely centrally on psychological measures in mapping the brain and do so in a comparative fashion undercuts the likelihood that, at least within organic life forms, we are likely to find cases of multiply realized psychological functions.

Comment: One of the better arguments against multiple realizability. Could be used in any philosophy of mind course where that claim arises as a demonstration of how it could be challenged. A good deal of discussion about neuroscientific practices and methods, but not excessively technical.

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Beebee, Helen, , . Necessary Connections and the Problem of Induction
2011, Noûs 45(3): 504-527.
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Summary: In this paper Beebee argues that the problem of induction, which she describes as a genuine sceptical problem, is the same for Humeans than for Necessitarians. Neither scientific essentialists nor Armstrong can solve the problem of induction by appealing to IBE (Inference to the Best Explanation), for both arguments take an illicit inductive step.

Comment: This paper describes in a comprehensible way Armstrong’s and the Humean approaches to the problem of induction. Ideal for postgraduate philosophy of science courses, although it could be a further reading for undergraduate courses as well.

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Bokulich, Alisa, , . Distinguishing Explanatory from Nonexplanatory Fictions
2012, Philosophy of Science 79(5): 725-737.
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Added by: Jamie Collin, Contributed by:

Abstract: There is a growing recognition that fictions have a number of legitimate functions in science, even when it comes to scientific explanation. However, the question then arises, what distinguishes an explanatory fiction from a nonexplanatory one? Here I examine two cases – one in which there is a consensus in the scientific community that the fiction is explanatory and another in which the fiction is not explanatory. I shall show how my account of “model explanations” is able to explain this asymmetry, and argue that realism – of a more subtle form – does have a role in distinguishing explanatory from nonexplanatory fictions.

Comment: This would be useful in a course on the philosophy of science or the philosophy of fiction. It is particularly useful for teaching, as it is cutting edge in the philosophy of science but not particularly technical.

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Bokulich, Alisa, , . How scientific models can explain
2009, Synthese 180(1): 33-45.
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Abstract: Scientific models invariably involve some degree of idealization, abstraction, or fictionalization of their target system. Nonetheless, I argue that there are circumstances under which such false models can offer genuine scientific explanations. After reviewing three different proposals in the literature for how models can explain, I shall introduce a more general account of what I call model explanations, which specify the conditions under which models can be counted as explanatory. I shall illustrate this new framework by applying it to the case of Bohr’s model of the atom, and conclude by drawing some distinctions between phenomenological models, explanatory models, and fictional models.

Comment: Interesting paper about scientific modelling. It is easy to read and could serve as an introduction to the topic. The paper explores three approaches to Model Explanations: mechanist model explanations, covering-law model explanations, and causal model explanations. The explanatory function in models is illustrated with the example of Bohr’s atom. This article is recommended for undergraduate students.

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Cardona, Carlos Alberto, , . Kepler: Analogies in the search for the law of refraction
2016, Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part A 59:22-35.
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Added by: Clotilde Torregrossa, Contributed by: Juan R. Loaiza

Publisher’s Note: This paper examines the methodology used by Kepler to discover a quantitative law of refraction. The aim is to argue that this methodology follows a heuristic method based on the following two Pythagorean principles: (1) sameness is made known by sameness, and (2) harmony arises from establishing a limit to what is unlimited. We will analyse some of the author’s proposed analogies to find the aforementioned law and argue that the investigation’s heuristic pursues such principles.

Comment: [This is a stub entry. Please add your comments to help us expand it]

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Cartwright, Nancy, , . The Dappled World: A study of the Boundaries of Science
1999, Cambridge University Press.
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Publisher’s Note: It is often supposed that the spectacular successes of our modern mathematical sciences support a lofty vision of a world completely ordered by one single elegant theory. In this book Nancy Cartwright argues to the contrary. When we draw our image of the world from the way modern science works – as empiricism teaches us we should – we end up with a world where some features are precisely ordered, others are given to rough regularity and still others behave in their own diverse ways. This patchwork makes sense when we realise that laws are very special productions of nature, requiring very special arrangements for their generation. Combining classic and newly written essays on physics and economics, The Dappled World carries important philosophical consequences and offers serious lessons for both the natural and the social sciences.

Comment: Really important work in the topic of the laws of nature and scientific modelling. The book requires a pretty thorough understanding of both philosophical method and matters of science. Recommended for postgraduate courses in philosophy of science.

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Cartwright, Nancy, , . The Truth Doesn’t Explain Much
1980, American Philosophical Quarterly 17(2): 159 – 163.
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Added by: Nick Novelli, Contributed by:

Summary: It has sometimes been argued that the covering law model in philosophy of science is too permissive about what gets to count as an explanation. This paper, by contrast, argues that it lets in too little, since there are far too few covering laws to account for all of our explanations. In fact, we rely on ceteris paribus laws that are literally false. Though these are not a true description of nature, they do a good job of allowing us to explain phenomena, so we should be careful to keep those two functions of science separate.

Comment: This relatively brief article offers a good illustration of how, contrary to some preconceptions, science does not always aim at absolute or universal truths, and instead allows pragmatic considerations to play a large role. Useful as part of an examination of what scientific laws really are and what their role is.

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Cartwright, Nancy, , . Where Do Laws of Nature Come From?
1997, Dialectica 51(1): 65-78.
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Added by: Jamie Collin, Contributed by:

Summary: Cartwright explains and defends the view that causal capacities are more fundamental than laws of nature. She does this by considering scientific practice: the kind of knowledge required to make experimental setups and predictions is knowledge of the causal capacities of the entities in those systems, not knowledge of laws of nature.

Comment: A good introduction to Cartwright’s views and the position that causal capacities are real and more fundamental than laws of nature. Useful reading for both undergraduate and graduate courses in philosophy of science and metaphysics.

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Chakravartty, Anjan, , . Introduction: Ancient Skepticism, Voluntarism, and Science
2015, International Journal for the Study of Skepticism 5 (2):73-79
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Added by: Simon Fokt, Contributed by: Matthew Watts

Abstract: In this introduction, I motivate the project of examining certain resonances between ancient skeptical positions, especially Pyrrhonism, and positions in contemporary epistemology, with special attention to recent work in the epistemology of science. One such resonance concerns the idea of suspension of judgment or belief in certain contexts or domains of inquiry, and the reasons for (or processes eventuating in) suspension. Another concerns the question of whether suspension of belief in such circumstances is voluntary, in any of the senses discussed in current work on voluntarism in epistemology, which informs recent discussions of how voluntarism regarding epistemic stances may shed light on positions like scientific realism and antirealism. The aim of this special issue is thus to explore certain analogies and disanalogies between ancient and contemporary debates about skepticism, and to consider whether and to what extent the former can provide insight into the latter.

Comment: This text offers motivation for examining ancient skeptical positions in relation to contemporary epistemology, especially epistemology of science.

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Chakravartty, Anjan, , . Realist Representations of Particles: The Standard Model, Top-Down and Bottom-Up
2019, In Contemporary Scientific Realism and the Challenge from the History of Science
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Added by: Simon Fokt, Contributed by: Matthew Watts

Introduction: Much debate about scientific realism concerns the issue of whether it is compatible with theory change over time. Certain forms of ‘selective realism’ have been suggested with this in mind. Here I consider a closely related challenge for realism: that of articulating how a theory should be interpreted at any given time. In a crucial respect the challenges posed by diachronic and synchronic interpretation are the same; in both cases, realists face an apparent dilemma. The thinner their interpretations, the easier realism is to defend, but at the cost of more substantial commitment. The more substantial their interpretations, the more difficult they are to defend. I consider this worry in the context of the Standard Model of particle physics.

Comment: This text presents challenges to scientific realism, and shows how these challenges can be mitigated.

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Chakravartty, Anjan, , . Scientific Ontology: Integrating Naturalized Metaphysics and Voluntarist Epistemology
2017, Oxford University Press
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Added by: Simon Fokt, Contributed by: Matthew Watts

Publisher’s Note: Both science and philosophy are interested in questions of ontology- questions about what exists and what these things are like. Science and philosophy, however, seem like very different ways of investigating the world, so how should one proceed? Some defer to the sciences, conceived as something apart from philosophy, and others to metaphysics, conceived as something apart from science, for certain kinds of answers. This book contends that these sorts of deference are misconceived. A compelling account of ontology must appreciate the ways in which the sciences incorporate metaphysical assumptions and arguments. At the same time, it must pay careful attention to how observation, experience, and the empirical dimensions of science are related to what may be viewed as defensible philosophical theorizing about ontology. The promise of an effectively naturalized metaphysics is to encourage beliefs that are formed in ways that do justice to scientific theorizing, modeling, and experimentation. But even armed with such a view, there is no one, uniquely rational way to draw lines between domains of ontology that are suitable for belief, and ones in which it would be better to suspend belief instead. In crucial respects, ontology is in the eye of the beholder: it is Informed by underlying commitments with implications for the limits of inquiry, which inevitably vary across rational inquirers. As a result, the proper scope of ontology is subject to a striking form of voluntary choice, yielding a new and transformative conception of scientific ontology.

Comment: This is a book that would be useful for teaching advanced courses in the philosophy of science. It requires extensive background knowledge of philosophy of science, scientific epistemology, and naturalized metaphysics.

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