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Explanation In Contexts of Causal Complexity

Ross, Lauren (2016) Explanation In Contexts of Causal Complexity. Doctoral Dissertation, University of Pittsburgh. (Unpublished)

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My dissertation examines common types of causal complexity in the biological sciences, the challenges they pose for explanation, and how scientists overcome these challenges. I provide a novel distinction between two types of causal complexity and I analyze explanatory patterns that arise in these contexts. My analysis reveals how explanation in the biological sciences is more diverse than mainstream accounts suggest, which view most or all explanations in this domain as mechanistic. I examine explanations that appeal to causal pathways, dynamical models, and monocausal factors and I show how these explanations are guided by considerations that have been overlooked in the extant literature. My project explores connections between these explanatory patterns and other topics of interest in philosophy and general philosophy of science, including: reduction, multiple realizability, causal selection, and the role of pragmatics in explanation.


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Item Type: University of Pittsburgh ETD
Status: Unpublished
CreatorsEmailPitt UsernameORCID
Ross, Lauren
ETD Committee:
TitleMemberEmail AddressPitt UsernameORCID
Committee CoChairWoodward, Jamesjfw@pitt.eduJFW
Committee CoChairSchaffner, Kennethkfs@pitt.eduKFS
Committee MemberBatterman, Robertrbatterm@pitt.eduRBATTERM
Committee MemberWimsatt,
Committee MemberChirimuuta, Mazviitamac289@pitt.eduMAC289
Date: 13 June 2016
Date Type: Publication
Defense Date: 14 April 2016
Approval Date: 13 June 2016
Submission Date: 4 April 2016
Access Restriction: No restriction; Release the ETD for access worldwide immediately.
Number of Pages: 113
Institution: University of Pittsburgh
Schools and Programs: Dietrich School of Arts and Sciences > History and Philosophy of Science
Degree: PhD - Doctor of Philosophy
Thesis Type: Doctoral Dissertation
Refereed: Yes
Uncontrolled Keywords: Philosophy of Science, Philosophy of Biology, General Philosophy of Science, Causation, Explanation
Date Deposited: 13 Jun 2016 22:11
Last Modified: 15 Nov 2016 14:32


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