•  58
    Theoretical Understanding in Science
    British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 68 (2). 2017.
    In this article I develop a model of theoretical understanding in science. This is a philosophical theory that specifies the conditions that are both necessary and sufficient for a scientist to satisfy the construction ‘S understands theory T ’. I first consider how this construction is preferable to others, then build a model of the requisite conditions on the basis of examples from elementary physics. I then show how this model of theoretical understanding can be made philosophically robust an…Read more
  •  277
    Ramsey Sentence Realism as an Answer to the Pessimistic Meta‐Induction
    Philosophy of Science 72 (5): 1373-1384. 2005.
    John Worrall recently provided an account of epistemic structural realism, which explains the success of science by arguing for the correct mathematical structure of our theories. He accounts for the historical failures of science by pointing to bloated ontological interpretations of theoretical terms. In this paper I argue that Worrall’s account suffers from five serious problems. I also show that Pierre Cruse and David Papineau have developed a rival structural realism that solves all of the p…Read more
  •  27
    Refining the Inferential Model of Scientific Understanding
    International Studies in the Philosophy of Science 27 (2): 173-197. 2013.
    In this article, I use a mental models computational account of representation to illustrate some details of my previously presented inferential model of scientific understanding. The hope is to shed some light on possible mechanisms behind the notion of scientific understanding. I argue that if mental models are a plausible approach to modelling cognition, then understanding can best be seen as the coupling of specific rules. I present our beliefs as ?ordinary? conditional rules, and the coupli…Read more
  •  86
    EMU and inference: what the explanatory model of scientific understanding ignores
    European Journal for Philosophy of Science 4 (1): 55-74. 2014.
    The Explanatory Model of Scientific Understanding is a deflationary thesis recently advocated by Kareem Khalifa. EMU is committed to two key ideas: all understanding-relevant knowledge is propositional in nature; and the abilities we use to generate understanding are merely our usual logical reasoning skills. In this paper I provide an argument against both ideas, suggesting that scientific understanding requires a significant amount of non-propositional knowledge not captured by logical relatio…Read more
  •  123
    In this paper I argue that singularist approaches to solving the Pessimistic Induction, such as Structural Realism, are unacceptable, but that when a pluralist account of methodological principles is adopted this anti-realist argument can be dissolved. The proposed view is a contextual methodological pluralism in the tradition of Normative Naturalism, and is justified by appeal to meta-methodological principles that are themselves justified via an externalist epistemology. Not only does this vie…Read more
  •  57
    An Inferential Model of Scientific Understanding
    International Studies in the Philosophy of Science 26 (1). 2012.
    In this article I argue that two current accounts of scientific understanding are incorrect and I propose an alternative theory. My new account draws on recent research in cognitive psychology which reveals the importance of making causal and logical inferences on the basis of incoming information. To understand a phenomenon we need to make particular kinds of inferences concerning the explanations we are given. Specifically, we come to understand a phenomenon scientifically by developing mental…Read more
  •  148
    The No-Miracles Argument (NMA) is often used to support scientific realism. We can formulate this argument as an inference to the best explanation this accusation of circularity by appealing to reliabilism, an externalist epistemology. In this paper I argue that this retreat fails. Reliabilism suffers from a potentially devastating difficulty known as the Generality Problem and attempts to solve this problem require adopting both epistemic and metaphysical assumptions regarding local scientific …Read more