• University of Helsinki
    Department of Philosophy (Theoretical Philosophy, Practical Philosophy, Philosophy in Swedish)
    Associate Professor
  •  346
    Dissecting explanatory power
    Philosophical Studies 148 (2). 2010.
    Comparisons of rival explanations or theories often involve vague appeals to explanatory power. In this paper, we dissect this metaphor by distinguishing between different dimensions of the goodness of an explanation: non-sensitivity, cognitive salience, precision, factual accuracy and degree of integration. These dimensions are partially independent and often come into conflict. Our main contribution is to go beyond simple stipulation or description by explicating why these factors are taken to…Read more
  •  138
    Unrealistic assumptions in rational choice theory
    with Aki Lehtinen
    Philosophy of the Social Sciences 37 (2): 115-138. 2007.
    The most common argument against the use of rational choice models outside economics is that they make unrealistic assumptions about individual behavior. We argue that whether the falsity of assumptions matters in a given model depends on which factors are explanatorily relevant. Since the explanatory factors may vary from application to application, effective criticism of economic model building should be based on model-specific arguments showing how the result really depends on the false assum…Read more
  •  108
    Simulation and the sense of understanding
    In Paul Humphreys & Cyrille Imbert (eds.), Models, Simulations, and Representations, Routledge. 2009.
    Whether simulation models provide the right kind of understanding comparable to that of analytic models has been and remains a contentious issue. The assessment of understanding provided by simulations is often hampered by a conflation between the sense of understanding and understanding proper. This paper presents a deflationist conception of understanding and argues for the need to replace appeals to the sense of understanding with explicit criteria of explanatory relevance and for rethinking …Read more
  •  100
    Economic Modelling as Robustness Analysis
    with Aki Lehtinen and Caterina Marchionni
    British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 61 (3): 541-567. 2010.
    We claim that the process of theoretical model refinement in economics is best characterised as robustness analysis: the systematic examination of the robustness of modelling results with respect to particular modelling assumptions. We argue that this practise has epistemic value by extending William Wimsatt's account of robustness analysis as triangulation via independent means of determination. For economists robustness analysis is a crucial methodological strategy because their models are oft…Read more
  •  98
    Incredible Worlds, Credible Results
    with Aki Lehtinen
    Erkenntnis 70 (1): 119-131. 2009.
    Robert Sugden argues that robustness analysis cannot play an epistemic role in grounding model-world relationships because the procedure is only a matter of comparing models with each other. We posit that this argument is based on a view of models as being surrogate systems in too literal a sense. In contrast, the epistemic importance of robustness analysis is easy to explicate if modelling is viewed as extended cognition, as inference from assumptions to conclusions. Robustness analysis is abou…Read more
  •  91
    Two concepts of mechanism: Componential causal system and abstract form of interaction
    International Studies in the Philosophy of Science 23 (2). 2009.
    Although there has been much recent discussion on mechanisms in philosophy of science and social theory, no shared understanding of the crucial concept itself has emerged. In this paper, a distinction between two core concepts of mechanism is made on the basis that the concepts correspond to two different research strategies: the concept of mechanism as a componential causal system is associated with the heuristic of functional decomposition and spatial localization and the concept of mechanism …Read more
  •  76
    The invariance under interventions –account of causal explanation imposes a modularity constraint on causal systems: a local intervention on a part of the system should not change other causal relations in that system. This constraint has generated criticism against the account, since many ordinary causal systems seem to break this condition. This paper answers to this criticism by noting that explanatory models are always models of specific causal structures, not causal systems as a whole, and …Read more
  •  76
    How to Be a Humean Interventionist
    Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 89 (2): 333-351. 2014.
    This paper aims to provide Humean metaphysics for the interventionist theory of causation. This is done by appealing to the hierarchical picture of causal relations as being realized by mechanisms, which in turn are identified with lower-level causal structures. The modal content of invariances at the lowest level of this hierarchy, at which mechanisms are reduced to strict natural laws, is then explained in terms of projectivism based on the best-system view of laws
  •  67
    External representations and scientific understanding
    Synthese 192 (12): 3817-3837. 2015.
    This paper provides an inferentialist account of model-based understanding by combining a counterfactual account of explanation and an inferentialist account of representation with a view of modeling as extended cognition. This account makes it understandable how the manipulation of surrogate systems like models can provide genuinely new empirical understanding about the world. Similarly, the account provides an answer to the question how models, that always incorporate assumptions that are lite…Read more
  •  66
    Evolution is often characterized as a tinkerer that creates efficient but messy solutions to problems. We analyze the nature of the problems that arise when we try to explain and understand cognitive phenomena created by this haphazard design process. We present a theory of explanation and understanding and apply it to a case problem – solutions generated by genetic algorithms. By analyzing the nature of solutions that genetic algorithms present to computational problems, we show that the reason…Read more
  •  64
    Computing the perfect model: Why do economists Shun simulation?
    with Aki Lehtinen
    Philosophy of Science 74 (3): 304-329. 2007.
    Like other mathematically intensive sciences, economics is becoming increasingly computerized. Despite the extent of the computation, however, there is very little true simulation. Simple computation is a form of theory articulation, whereas true simulation is analogous to an experimental procedure. Successful computation is faithful to an underlying mathematical model, whereas successful simulation directly mimics a process or a system. The computer is seen as a legitimate tool in economics onl…Read more
  •  63
    Economics Imperialism and Solution Concepts in Political Science
    with A. Lehtinen
    Philosophy of the Social Sciences 40 (3): 347-374. 2010.
    Political science and economic science . . . make use of the same language, the same mode of abstraction, the same instruments of thought and the same method of reasoning. (Black 1998, 354) Proponents as well as opponents of economics imperialism agree that imperialism is a matter of unification; providing a unified framework for social scientific analysis. Uskali Mäki distinguishes between derivational and ontological unification and argues that the latter should serve as a constraint for the f…Read more
  •  52
    Mechanisms, Modularity and Constitutive Explanation
    Erkenntnis 77 (3): 361-380. 2012.
    Mechanisms are often characterized as causal structures and the interventionist account of causation is then used to characterize what it is to be a causal structure. The associated modularity constraint on causal structures has evoked criticism against using the theory as an account of mechanisms, since many mechanisms seem to violate modularity. This paper answers to this criticism by making a distinction between a causal system and a causal structure. It makes sense to ask what the modularity…Read more
  •  50
    Modeling epistemic communities
    In Miranda Fricker, Peter J. Graham, David Henderson & Nikolaj Jang Lee Linding Pedersen (eds.), The Routledge Handbook of Social Epistemology, Routledge. forthcoming.
    We review the most prominent modeling approaches in social epistemology aimed at understand- ing the functioning of epistemic communities and provide a philosophy of science perspective on the use and interpretation of such simple toy models, thereby suggesting how they could be integrated with conceptual and empirical work. We highlight the need for better integration of such models with relevant findings from disciplines such as social psychology and organization studies.
  •  44
    Many of the arguments for neuroeconomics rely on mistaken assumptions about criteria of explanatory relevance across disciplinary boundaries and fail to distinguish between evidential and explanatory relevance. Building on recent philosophical work on mechanistic research programmes and the contrastive counterfactual theory of explanation, we argue that explaining an explanatory presupposition or providing a lower-level explanation does not necessarily constitute explanatory improvement. Neurosc…Read more
  •  43
    Looping Kinds and Social Mechanisms
    with Samuli Pöyhönen
    Sociological Theory 30 (3): 187-205. 2012.
    Human behavior is not always independent of the ways in which humans are scientifically classified. That there are looping effects of human kinds has been used as an argument for the methodological separation of the natural and the human sciences and to justify social constructionist claims. We suggest that these arguments rely on false presuppositions and present a mechanisms-based account of looping that provides a better way to understand the phenomenon and its theoretical and philosophical i…Read more
  •  42
    Contrastive statistical explanation and causal heterogeneity
    European Journal for Philosophy of Science 2 (3): 435-452. 2012.
    Probabilistic phenomena are often perceived as being problematic targets for contrastive explanation. It is usually thought that the possibility of contrastive explanation hinges on whether or not the probabilistic behaviour is irreducibly indeterministic, and that the possible remaining contrastive explananda are token event probabilities or complete probability distributions over such token outcomes. This paper uses the invariance-under-interventions account of contrastive explanation to argue…Read more
  •  38
    How organization explains
    In Vassilios Karakostas & Dennis Dieks (eds.), Epsa11 Perspectives and Foundational Problems in Philosophy of Science, Springer. pp. 69--80. 2013.
    Constitutivemechanisticexplanationsexplainapropertyofawholewith the properties of its parts and their organization. Carl Craver’s mutual manipulability criterion for constitutive relevance only captures the explanatory relevance of causal properties of parts and leaves the organization side of mechanistic explanation unaccounted for. We use the contrastive counterfactual theory of explanation and an account of the dimensions of organization to build a typology of organizational dependence. We an…Read more
  •  33
    Nudge, Boost or Design? Limitations of behavioral policy under social interaction.
    with Samuli Reijula, Timo Ehrig, Konstantinos Katsikopoulos, and Shyam Sunder
    Journal of Behavioral Economics for Policy 2 (1): 99-105. 2018.
    Nudge and boost are two competing approaches to applying the psychology of reasoning and decision making to improve policy. Whereas nudges rely on manipulation of choice architecture to steer people towards better choices, the objective of boosts is to develop good decision-making competences. Proponents of both approaches claim capacity to enhance social welfare through better individual decisions. We suggest that such efforts should involve a more careful analysis of how individual and social …Read more
  •  30
    Reality’s next top model? Content Type Journal Article DOI 10.1007/s11016-010-9475-3 Authors Jaakko Kuorikoski, Philosophy of Science Group/Social and Moral Philosophy, University of Helsinki, P.O. Box 24, 00014 Helsinki, Finland Journal Metascience Online ISSN 1467-9981 Print ISSN 0815-0796.
  •  24
    Looping kinds and social mechanisms
    Sociological Theory 30 (3): 187-205. 2012.
    Human behavior is not always independent of the ways in which humans are scientifically classified. That there are looping effects of human kinds has been used as an argument for the methodological separation of the natural and the human sciences and to justify social constructionist claims. We suggest that these arguments rely on false presuppositions and present a mechanisms-based account of looping that provides a better way to understand the phenomenon and its theoretical and philosophical i…Read more
  •  24
    Economics for Real: Uskali Mäki and the Place of Truth in Economics (edited book)
    with Aki Petteri Lehtinen and Petri Ylikoski
    Routledge. 2012.
    This book provides the first comprehensive and critical examination of Mäki's realist philosophy of economics.
  •  13
    Model selection in macroeconomics: DSGE and ad hocness
    with Aki Lehtinen
    Journal of Economic Methodology 25 (3): 252-264. 2018.
    ABSTRACTWe investigate the applicability of Rodrik’s accounts of model selection and horizontal progress to macroeconomic DSGE modelling in both academic and policy-oriented modelling contexts. We argue that the key step of identifying critical assumptions is complicated by the interconnectedness of the common structural core of DSGE models and by the ad hoc modifications introduced to model various rigidities and other market imperfections. We then outline alternative ways in which macroeconomi…Read more
  •  12
    The recognition that models and simulations play a central role in the epistemology of science is about fifteen years old. Although models had long been discussed as possible foundational units in the logical analysis of scientific knowledge, the philosophical study of modelling as a distinct epistemic practice really got going in the wake of the Models as Mediators anthology edited by Margaret Morrison and Mary Morgan. In spite of the broad agreement that in fact much of science is model-based,…Read more
  •  12
    Explaining with equilibria68
    In Johannes Persson & Petri Ylikoski (eds.), Rethinking Explanation, Springer. pp. 149--162. 2007.
  • No Title available: Reviews
    Economics and Philosophy 27 (2): 203-208. 2011.
  • Kokeellinen yhteiskuntatiede
    In Tuukka Kaidesoja, Tomi Kankainen & Petri Ylikoski (eds.), Syistä selityksiin. Kausaalisuus ja selittäminen yhteiskuntatieteissä, . pp. 279-307. 2018.
    Tässä luvussa tarkastelemme hypoteesien testaamista ja kokeellista kausaalista järkeilyä tieteenfilosofisesta näkökulmasta. Arvioimme kokeellisen menetelmän mahdollisuuksia ja rajoituksia yhteiskuntatieteellisen tutkimuksen kontekstissa, jossa luonnontieteille ominaisia yleispäteviä teorioita harvoin on saatavilla ja jossa suoraviivaisiin kausaaliväitteisiin suhtaudutaan usein epäillen. Tämä luku ei siis ole menetelmäopas, joka kädestä pitäen opastaisi, kuinka yhteiskuntatieteellisiä kokeita tul…Read more