Munich Center for Mathematical Philosophy (MCMP)

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Explanation Beyond Causation (October 23-24, 2014)


Idea and Motivation

The presently received view regarding the question “what is a scientific explanation?” is the causal model of explanation. According to this model, the sciences explain by providing information about causes and causal mechanisms. However, in the recent literature, an increasing number of philosophers argue that the explanatory practices in the sciences are considerably richer than the causal model suggests. These philosophers argue that there are non-causal explanations that cannot be accommodated by the causal model. Case studies of non-causal explanations come in a surprisingly diverse variety: for instance, the non-causal character of scientific explanations is based on the explanatory use of non-causal laws, purely mathematical facts, symmetry principles, inter-theoretic relations, renormalization group methods, and so forth. However, if there are non-causal ways of explaining, then the causal model cannot be the whole story about scientific explanation. The goal of the conference is to shed light on, by and large, unexplored philosophical terrain: that is, to develop a philosophical account of various aspects of non-causal explanations in the sciences.


23 October

09:15 - 09:30 Welcome.
09:30 - 10:45 Margaret Morrison: Explanation in Complex Systems. Probability and Renormalization Group Methods
10:45 - 11:00 Coffee Break
11:00 - 11:45 Lina Jansson: Nomological Explanation Without Causation
11:45 - 12:30 Brad Weslake: Selection, Drift, and Non-Causal Explanation
12:30 - 14:00 Lunch
14:00 - 14:45 Michael Strevens: A Unified Framework For Causal and Non-causal Explanations
14:45 - 15:30 Juha Saatsi: Worthwhile Distinctions: Kinematic, Dynamic and Non-causal explanations
15:30 - 15:45 Coffee Break
15:45 - 16:30 Alexander Reutlinger: What’s Explanatory About Non-causal Explanations?
16:30 - 17:15 Mathias Frisch: Are All Explanations Causal?
17:15 - 17:45 Coffee Break
17:45 - 19:00 Brad Skow: Explanations, Why Questions, Reasons, and Causes
19:00 Dinner

24 October

09:00 - 10:15 Jan Sprenger: Explaining the Success of Science: The Probabilistic No Miracles Argument
10:30 - 11:00 Coffee Break
11:00 - 11:45 Andrew Wayne: Idealization and Explanation: A Deductivist Approach
11:45 - 12:00 Coffee Break
12:00 - 12:45 Lilia Gurova: How Personality Traits Explain: The Value Of Non-causal Category-Based Explanations
12:45 - 14:00 Lunch
14:00 - 14:45 Nora Berenstein: Mathematical Structure, Physical Modality, and Non-causal Explanation
14:45 - 15:30 Lorenzo Casini and Johannes Korbmacher: Grounding Explanation and Scientific Reasoning
15:30 - 15:45 Coffee Break
15:45 - 17:00 Tim Maudlin: Statistical Explanation and Typicality


This conference is supported by the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation and the Carl Friedrich von Siemens Stiftung.