• Truth vs. Progress Realism about Spin
    In Steven French & Juha Saatsi (eds.), Scientific Realism and the Quantum, Oxford University Press. 2020.
  •  2
    VLE Wiki as Philosophy Assessment
    Discourse: Learning and Teaching in Philosophical and Religious Studies 10 (2): 147-157. 2011.
  •  433
    Explanatory Abstractions
    with Lina Jansson
    British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 70 (3). 2019.
    A number of philosophers have recently suggested that some abstract, plausibly non-causal and/or mathematical, explanations explain in a way that is radically dif- ferent from the way causal explanation explain. Namely, while causal explanations explain by providing information about causal dependence, allegedly some abstract explanations explain in a way tied to the independence of the explanandum from the microdetails, or causal laws, for example. We oppose this recent trend to regard abstract…Read more
  •  714
    We demonstrate how real progress can be made in the debate surrounding the enhanced indispensability argument. Drawing on a counterfactual theory of explanation, well-motivated independently of the debate, we provide a novel analysis of ‘explanatory generality’ and how mathematics is involved in its procurement. On our analysis, mathematics’ sole explanatory contribution to the procurement of explanatory generality is to make counterfactual information about physical dependencies easier to grasp…Read more
  • Scientific Realism and the Quantum (edited book)
    Oxford University Press. 2020.
    Quantum theory explains a hugely diverse array of phenomena in the history of science. But how can the world be the way quantum theory says it is? Fifteen expert scholars consider what the world is like according to quantum physics in this volume and offer illuminating new perspectives on fundamental debates that span physics and philosophy.
  •  320
    Scientific Realism and the Quantum (edited book)
    with Steven French
    Oxford University Press. 2020.
    Quantum theory explains a hugely diverse array of phenomena in the history of science. But how can the world be the way quantum theory says it is? Fifteen expert scholars consider what the world is like according to quantum physics in this volume and offer illuminating new perspectives on fundamental debates that span physics and philosophy.
  •  26
    Explanations are very important to us in many contexts: in science, mathematics, philosophy, and also in everyday and juridical contexts. But what is an explanation? In the philosophical study of explanation, there is long-standing, influential tradition that links explanation intimately to causation: we often explain by providing accurate information about the causes of the phenomenon to be explained. Such causal accounts have been the received view of the nature of explanation, particularly in…Read more
  •  13
    On Explanations from Geometry of Motion
    British Journal for the Philosophy of Science. 2016.
    This paper examines explanations that turn on non-local geometrical facts about the space of possible configurations a system can occupy. I argue that it makes sense to contrast such explanations from “geometry of motion” with causal explanations. I also explore how my analysis of these explanations cuts across the distinction between kinematics and dynamics.
  •  98
    The Structural Foundations of Quantum Gravity (edited book)
    Oxford University Press. 2006.
    What is spacetime? General relativity and quantum field theory answer this question in very different ways. This collection of essays by physicists and philosophers looks at the problem of uniting these two most fundamental theories of our world, focusing on the nature of space and time within this new quantum framework, and the kind of metaphysical picture suggested by recent developments in physics and mathematics. This is a book that will inspire further philosophical reflection on recent adv…Read more
  •  37
    Historical inductions, Old and New
    Synthese 196 (10): 3979-3993. 2019.
    I review prominent historical arguments against scientific realism to indicate how they display a systematic overshooting in the conclusions drawn from the historical evidence. The root of the overshooting can be located in some critical, undue presuppositions regarding realism. I will highlight these presuppositions in connection with both Laudan’s ‘Old induction’ and Stanford’s New induction, and then delineate a minimal realist view that does without the problematic presuppositions.
  •  49
    What is theoretical progress of science?
    Synthese 196 (2): 611-631. 2019.
    The epistemic conception of scientific progress equates progress with accumulation of scientific knowledge. I argue that the epistemic conception fails to fully capture scientific progress: theoretical progress, in particular, can transcend scientific knowledge in important ways. Sometimes theoretical progress can be a matter of new theories ‘latching better onto unobservable reality’ in a way that need not be a matter of new knowledge. Recognising this further dimension of theoretical progress …Read more
  •  42
    On Explanations from Geometry of Motion
    British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 69 (1). 2018.
    This paper examines explanations that turn on non-local geometrical facts about the space of possible configurations a system can occupy. I argue that it makes sense to contrast such explanations from ‘geometry of motion’ with causal explanations. I also explore how my analysis of these explanations cuts across the distinction between kinematics and dynamics
  •  154
    This chapter defends a (minimal) realist conception of progress in scientific understanding in the face of the ubiquitous plurality of perspectives in science. The argument turns on the counterfactual-dependence framework of explanation and understanding, which is illustrated and evidenced with reference to different explanations of the rainbow.
  •  431
    I examine the epistemological debate on scientific realism in the context of quantum physics, focusing on the empirical underdetermin- ation of different formulations and interpretations of QM. I will argue that much of the interpretational, metaphysical work on QM tran- scends the kinds of realist commitments that are well-motivated in the light of the history of science. I sketch a way of demarcating empirically well-confirmed aspects of QM from speculative quantum metaphysics in a way that co…Read more
  •  2
    Symmetries and Explanatory Dependencies in Physics
    In Alexander Reutlinger & Juha Saatsi (eds.), Explanation Beyond Causation: Philosophical Perspectives on Non-Causal Explanations, Oxford University Press. pp. 185-205. 2018.
    Many important explanations in physics are based on ideas and assumptions about symmetries, but little has been said about the nature of such explanations. This chapter aims to fill this lacuna, arguing that various symmetry explanations can be naturally captured in the spirit of the counterfactual-dependence account of Woodward, liberalized from its causal trappings. From the perspective of this account symmetries explain by providing modal information about an explanatory dependence, by showin…Read more
  •  515
    This chapter examines issues surrounding inference to the best explanation, its justification, and its role in different arguments for scientific realism, as well as more general issues concerning explanations’ ontological commitments. Defending the reliability of inference to the best explanation has been a central plank in various realist arguments, and realists have drawn various ontological conclusions from the premise that a given scientific explanation best explains some phenomenon. This c…Read more
  •  73
    Contribution to a review symposium on Marc Lange's Because without cause: Non-causal explanation in science and mathematics. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2017
  •  64
    Grasping at Realist Straws (review)
    with Stathis Psillos, Rasmus Grønfeldt Winther, and Kyle Stanford
    Metascience 18 (3): 355-390. 2009.
  •  385
    This paper analyses the anti-reductionist argument from renormalisation group explanations of universality, and shows how it can be rebutted if one assumes that the explanation in question is captured by the counterfactual dependence account of explanation.
  •  428
    The central concern of this article is whether the semantic approach has the resources to appropriately capture the core tenets of structural realism. Chakravartty (2001) has argued that a realist notion of correspondence cannot be accommodated without introducing a linguistic component, which undermines the approach itself. We suggest that this worry can be addressed by an appropriate understanding of the role of language in this context. The real challenge, however, is how to incorporate the c…Read more
  •  97
    Structuralism with and without causation
    Synthese 194 (7): 2255-2271. 2017.
    This paper explores the status of causation in structuralist metaphysics of physics. What role (if any) does causation play in understanding ‘structure’ in ontological structural realism? I address this question by examining, in a structuralist setting, arguments for and against the idea that fundamental physics deals, perhaps exclusively, with causal properties. I will argue (against Esfeld, Dorato and others) that a structuralist interpretation of fundamental physics should diverge from ‘causa…Read more
  •  2659
    The literature on the indispensability argument for mathematical realism often refers to the ‘indispensable explanatory role’ of mathematics. I argue that we should examine the notion of explanatory indispensability from the point of view of specific conceptions of scientific explanation. The reason is that explanatory indispensability in and of itself turns out to be insufficient for justifying the ontological conclusions at stake. To show this I introduce a distinction between different kinds …Read more
  •  105
    Inconsistency and scientific realism
    Synthese 191 (13): 2941-2955. 2014.
    I erect a framework within the semantic view of theories for explaining the empirical success of internally inconsistent models and theories, with scientific realism in mind. The framework is an instance of the ‘content-driven’ approach to inconsistency, advocated by both Norton (Philos Sci 54:327–350, 1987) and Smith (Stud Hist Philos Sci 19:429–445, 1988a, In: Fine A, Leplin J (eds) PSA1988, 1988b), whose ideas my analysis aims to clarify and substantiate.
  •  194
    This is an introduction to the volume "Explanation Beyond Causation: Philosophical Perspectives on Non-Causal Explanations", edited by A. Reutlinger and J. Saatsi (OUP, forthcoming in 2017). Explanations are very important to us in many contexts: in science, mathematics, philosophy, and also in everyday and juridical contexts. But what is an explanation? In the philosophical study of explanation, there is long-standing, influential tradition that links explanation intimately to causation: we oft…Read more
  •  102
    Reconsidering the Fresnel–Maxwell theory shift: how the realist can have her cake and EAT it too
    Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part A 36 (3): 509-538. 2005.
    This paper takes another look at a case study which has featured prominently in a variety of arguments for rival realist positions. After critically reviewing the previous commentaries of the theory shift that took place in the transition from Fresnel’s ether to Maxwell’s electromagnetic theory of optics, it will defend a slightly different reading of this historical case study. Central to this task is the notion of explanatory approximate truth, a concept which must be carefully analysed to beg…Read more