New paper: Minimal Models Make for Minimal Explanations

Williams – Minimal Models Make for Minimal Explanations


The ontic view of scientific explanation is that explanations are objectively in the world. Critics of the ontic view argue it fails to capture the importance of idealization as a critical component of scientific practice. Specifically, Robert Batterman argues that highly idealized mathematical models in physics are counter-examples to the ontic view or at least show why the ontic view is incomplete as an account of scientific explanation. My aim in this paper is to defend the ontic view of scientific explanation against Batterman’s objections.

Feedback welcome! This may or may not be turned in as my second qualifying paper at Wash U.



Filed under Philosophy, Philosophy of science

3 responses to “New paper: Minimal Models Make for Minimal Explanations

  1. dougolena

    Dear Gary,

    Would you be interested in speaking to a former student of mine who is interested in starting a philosophy program at Wash U?

    I would appreciate it.


  2. Another excellent paper, Gary. I’m a big fan of Craver, but I don’t see how any resolution of these kinds of debates are possible given the ease with which either pole of the dichotomy can be interpreted as basic. Have you ever wondered at the way so many philosophical debates seem to fractally reproduce themselves across various contexts like this? For me, that’s the big game: trying to figure out the ambiguity haunting the made/found dichotomy. A pox on both houses, I say. Eliminativism is the answer here as well, I would argue. We need to see that these ways (subject versus object, epistemic versus ontological) of posing the question of theoretical knowledge are on a par with naive physics: useful up to a point, and better abandoned as we move on.

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