•  344
    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
  •  177
    The third dogma revisited
    Foundations of Science 10 (4). 2005.
    This paper is an attempt to further our understanding of mechanisms conceived of as ontologically separable from laws. What opportunities are there for a mechanistic perspective to be independent of, or even more fundamental than, a law perspective? Advocates of the mechanistic view often play with the possibility of internal and external reliability, or with the paralleling possibilities of enforcing, counteracting, redirecting, etc., the mechanisms’ power to produce To further this discussion …Read more
  •  155
    Causal Mechanisms in the Social Sciences
    with Peter Hedström
    Annual Review of Sociology 36. 2010.
    During the past decade, social mechanisms and mechanism-based ex- planations have received considerable attention in the social sciences as well as in the philosophy of science. This article critically reviews the most important philosophical and social science contributions to the mechanism approach. The first part discusses the idea of mechanism- based explanation from the point of view of philosophy of science and relates it to causation and to the covering-law account of explanation. The sec…Read more
  •  149
    Väitöskirjassani Understanding Interests and Causal Explanation (2001) hahmottelin teoriaa yksittäisten tapahtumien kausaalisesta selittämisestä. Tässä kirjoituksessa tarkastelen niitä haasteita tai vaatimuksia, joihin teoriani yritti vastata. Alustavien huomioiden jälkeen esittelen ensiksi erityisesti selittämisen teoriaan liittyviä haasteita ja sen jälkeen yleisempiä filosofisia vaatimuksia hyväksyttävälle selittämisen teorialle.
  •  146
    Causal and Constitutive Explanation Compared
    Erkenntnis 78 (2): 277-297. 2013.
    This article compares causal and constitutive explanation. While scientific inquiry usually addresses both causal and constitutive questions, making the distinction is crucial for a detailed understanding of scientific questions and their interrelations. These explanations have different kinds of explananda and they track different sorts of dependencies. Constitutive explanations do not address events or behaviors, but causal capacities. While there are some interesting relations between buildin…Read more
  •  125
    Understanding with theoretical models
    with N. Emrah Aydinonat
    Journal of Economic Methodology 21 (1): 19-36. 2014.
    This paper discusses the epistemic import of highly abstract and simplified theoretical models using Thomas Schelling’s checkerboard model as an example. We argue that the epistemic contribution of theoretical models can be better understood in the context of a cluster of models relevant to the explanatory task at hand. The central claim of the paper is that theoretical models make better sense in the context of a menu of possible explanations. In order to justify this claim, we introduce a dist…Read more
  •  117
    Generative Explanation and Individualism in Agent-Based Simulation
    Philosophy of the Social Sciences 43 (3): 323-340. 2013.
    Social scientists associate agent-based simulation (ABS) models with three ideas about explanation: they provide generative explanations, they are models of mechanisms, and they implement methodological individualism. In light of a philosophical account of explanation, we show that these ideas are not necessarily related and offer an account of the explanatory import of ABS models. We also argue that their bottom-up research strategy should be distinguished from methodological individualism
  •  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
  •  57
    The Illusion of Depth of Understanding in Science
    In Henk De Regt, Sabina Leonelli & Kai Eigner (eds.), Scientific Understanding: Philosophical Perspectives, University of Pittsburgh Press. pp. 100--119. 2009.
    In this chapter I will employ a well-known scientific research heuristic that studies how something works by focusing on circumstances in which it does not work. Rather than trying to describe what scientific understanding would ideally look like, I will try to learn something about it by observing mundane cases where understanding is partly illusory. My main thesis is that scientists are prone to the illusion of depth of understanding (IDU), and as a consequence they sometimes overestimate the …Read more
  •  56
    Realism in Action: Essays in the Philosophy of the Social Sciences (edited book)
    with Matti Sintonen and Kaarlo Miller
    Kluwer Academic Publishers. 2003.
    Realism in Action is a selection of essays written by leading representatives in the fields of action theory and philosophy of mind, philosophy of the social sciences and especially the nature of social action, and of epistemology and philosophy of science. Practical reason, reasons and causes in action theory, intending and trying, and folk-psychological explanation are some of the topics discussed by these leading participants. A particular emphasis is laid on trust, commitments and social ins…Read more
  •  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
    The Invisible Hand and Science
    Science Studies 8 (2): 32-43. 1995.
    In this paper I will discuss the idea of the invisible hand in the connection of its recent use in the philosophy of science. It has been invoked by some philosophers of science with a naturalistic bent as a part of their account of science. Some have made explicit references to the idea (Hull, 1988a) and others have only presupposed it (Giere, 1988; Goldman, 1991; Kitcher, 1993). I will argue that there are some problematic features in the way the idea of the invisible hand isused inthese acco…Read more
  •  42
    Rethinking Explanation (edited book)
    with Johannes Persson
    Springer. 2007.
    This book highlights some of the conceptual problems that still need to be solved and points out a number of fresh philosophical ideas to explore.
  •  40
    Understanding Interests and Causal Explanation
    Dissertation, University of Helsinki. 2001.
    This work consists of two parts. Part I will be a contribution to a philo- sophical discussion of the nature of causal explanation. It will present my contrastive counterfactual theory of causal explanation and show how it can be used to deal with a number of problems facing theories of causal explanation. Part II is a contribution to a discussion of the na- ture of interest explanation in social studies of science. The aim is to help to resolve some controversies concerning interest explanation…Read more
  •  39
    Agent-Based Simulation and Sociological Understanding
    Perspectives on Science 22 (3): 318-335. 2014.
    This article discusses agent-based simulation (ABS) as a tool of sociological understanding. I argue that agent-based simulations can play an important role in the expansion of explanatory understanding in the social sciences. The argument is based on an inferential account of understanding (Ylikoski 2009, Ylikoski & Kuorikoski 2010), according to which computer simulations increase our explanatory understanding by expanding our ability to make what-if inferences about social processes and by ma…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
    Three Conceptions of a Theory of Institutions
    Philosophy of the Social Sciences 48 (6): 550-568. 2018.
    We compare Guala’s unified theory of institutions with that of Searle and Greif. We show that unification can be many things and it may be associated with diverse explanatory goals. We also highlight some of the important shortcomings of Guala’s account: it does not capture all social institutions, its ability to bridge social ontology and game theory is based on a problematic interpretation of the type-token distinction, and its ability to make social ontology useful for social sciences is hind…Read more
  •  32
    Thought Experiments in Science Studies
    Philosophica 72 1-25. 2003.
    In this paper I examine the role of thought experiments in the social studies of science. More specifically, I will focus on two strands of social studies of science: the so-called sociology of scientific knowledge and the naturalistically oriented philosophy of science with interest in social dimensions of science. I begin by discussing David Hull's views on thought experiments in the study of science. His account serves as a foil that helps me to make some points about thought experiments. As …Read more
  •  27
    Micro, macro, and mechanisms
    In Harold Kincaid (ed.), The Oxford Handbook of Philosophy of Social Science, Oxford University Press. pp. 21. 2012.
    is chapter takes a fresh look at micro-macro relations in the social sciences from the point of view of the mechanistic account of explanation. Traditionally, micro- macro issues have been assimilated to the problem of methodological individualism. It is not my intention to resurrect this notoriously unfruitful controversy. On the contrary, the main thrust of this chapter is to show that the cul-de-sac of that debate can be avoided if we give up some of its presuppositions. The debate about meth…Read more
  •  27
    Comment on Naturalizing Critical Realist Social Ontology
    Journal of Social Ontology 1 (2): 333-340. 2015.
    This comment discusses Kaidesoja and raises the issue whether his analysis justifies stronger conclusions than he presents in the book. My comments focus on four issues. First, I argue that his naturalistic reconstruction of critical realist transcendental arguments shows that transcendental arguments should be treated as a rare curiosity rather than a general argumentative strategy. Second, I suggest that Kaidesoja’s analysis does not really justify his optimism about the usefulness of causal p…Read more
  •  23
    This paper provides a conceptual analysis of the notion of interests as it is used in the social studies of science. After describing the theoretical background behind the Strong Program's adoption of the concept of interest, the paper outlines a reconstruction of the everyday notion of interest and argues that this same notion is used also by the sociologists of scientific knowledge. However, there are a couple of important differences between the everyday use of this notion and the way in whic…Read more
  •  22
    Economics for Real: Uskali Mäki and the Place of Truth in Economics (edited book)
    with Aki Petteri Lehtinen and Jaakko Kuorikoski
    Routledge. 2012.
    This book provides the first comprehensive and critical examination of Mäki's realist philosophy of economics.
  •  15
    Bringing critique back to the philosophy of science
    Social Epistemology 17 (2-3): 321-324. 2003.