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Some Concerns Regarding Explanatory Pluralism: The Explanatory Role of Optimality Models

Tȃrziu, Gabriel (2019) Some Concerns Regarding Explanatory Pluralism: The Explanatory Role of Optimality Models. Filozofia Nauki, 27 (4). pp. 95-113. ISSN 12306894

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Optimality models are widely used in different parts of biology. Two important questions that have been asked about such models are: are they explanatory and, if so, what type of explanations do they offer? My concern in this paper is with the approach of Rice (2012, 2015) and Irvine (2015), who claim that these models provide non-causal explanations. I argue that there are serious problems with this approach and with the accounts of explanation it is intended to justify. The idea behind this undertaking is to draw attention to an important issue associated with the recent pluralist stance on explanation: the rampant proliferation of theories of explanation. This proliferation supports a pluralist perspective on explanation, and pluralism encourages such a proliferation. But, if we are not careful about how we arrive at and how we justify new accounts of explanation — i.e., if we do not try to avoid the sort of problems discussed in this paper — we may end up trivializing the concept of explanation.

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Item Type: Published Article or Volume
Tȃrziu, Gabrielgabi_tarziu@yahoo.com0000-0002-7331-5412
Keywords: optimality models, non-causal explanation, optimality explanations, explanatory pluralism, explanation in biology
Subjects: General Issues > Explanation
Depositing User: Dr. Gabriel Târziu
Date Deposited: 24 Oct 2021 03:33
Last Modified: 24 Oct 2021 03:33
Item ID: 19552
Journal or Publication Title: Filozofia Nauki
Official URL:
DOI or Unique Handle: 10.14394/filnau.2019.0028
Subjects: General Issues > Explanation
Date: 15 December 2019
Page Range: pp. 95-113
Volume: 27
Number: 4
ISSN: 12306894

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