PSA2016: The 25th Biennial Meeting of the Philosophy of Science Association

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Contextual Interaction in Biological Explanation

Many areas of biological research have recently shifted from internalist to interactionist explanatory frameworks. This paper aims: (i) to make sense of these shifts in biological practice and (ii) to show how understanding them requires a new philosophical model of explanation capable of taking account of dynamic interactions between explanations and their broader contexts. I provide such a model, based on my earlier study of conceptual models in inference. It suggests that dynamic processes of epistemic interaction tend to move from illuminating but misleading simplification toward an integrative understanding of causal complexity—a tendency I dub “epistemic adaptation.”

Author Information:

Gillian Barker    
Department of Philosophy
University of Western Ontario


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