Page 5 - MODES of EXPLANATION

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questions of what is science is to risk the admission of "belief" into scientific practice. Yet, such
"belief" is always present, and from the pragmatic constructivist perspective needs explicit
recognition.
Chapter 7 Robustness and Explanation
William Wimsatt
Robustness and explanation are multiply connected. If levels of organization didn't exist, our
evolution could not have happened. We should try to explain things that are not robust in terms
of things that are robust. Organisms are designed for reliability, so that with the genetic variations
they undergo, or the environmental variations they must endure and exploit, they still work. In
general the more important the function, the more securely is it backed up, with redundant
processes or alternative ways of achieving it. This is perhaps the most obvious connection between
robustness and organic design. A good explanation ought to be something that is not too sensitive
to detail and is potentially generalizable. Recognize the importance of taking multiple perspectives
on a problem because we don't have any perspectives that cover all of the waterfront.
Chapter 8 -- A Mode of ‘Epi-Thinking’ Leads to the Exploration of Vagueness and Finality
Stanley Salthe
For many years, the covering law model was the dominant account of explanation. Given its long
reign, it is somewhat surprising that there is no obvious link between covering law explanations
and causal explanations. Salthe offers to provide this link. By inverting the order in which we think
about explanations, Salthe suggests that we can read causal relationships off of covering law
explanations. While the resulting causal story can help us understand vagueness, or
pluripotentiality, it also involves a form of causality that has been little discussed in the
contemporary scientific literature: final causality.
Chapter 9 Occam’s Razor, the Complexity of Truth, and the Simplicity Puzzle
Kevin Kelly
The problem of under determination of hypothesis by evidence is one of the most vexing issues in
the philosophy of science. It is widely accepted that the super-empirical virtues could help solve
the problem, but only if we have some reason to believe that the super-empirical virtues are
indicative of truth. Such reasons have proved elusive. Kelly aims to remedy the situation by
demonstrating that reliance on simplicity is truth conducive. In brief, Kelly argues that provisional
acceptance of the simplest empirically adequate theory will lead to the smallest number of
retractions. If one starts with the simplest theory and only accepts a more complicated theory when
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