Program Conference “Models of Explanation”, 11-13 June 2018

The conference will be held on the campus of the University of Turin, in the Palazzo del Rettorato (Via Verdi, 8—also accessible from Via Po) and the nearby Cavallerizza Reale (Via Verdi, 9).

Below you find the program with all talks and posters in chronological order. Each contributed talk takes 40 minutes, including discussion time.

Monday, 11 June

9:00—9:30 Registration
9:30—10:45 Keynote speaker #1: Tania Lombrozo (UC Berkeley/Princeton University)

“Explaining to the Best Inference”

10:45—11:15 Coffee Break
11:15—13:15 Parallel Sessions 1
Session 1A: Cognitive Science Session 1B: Mathematics and Physics
J.D. Trout (Illinois Institue of Technology):
“Fitting Big Explanations into Small Minds”
Josh Hunt (University of Michigan):
“Modularization and understanding through symmetry”
Gustavo Cevolani and Luca Cecchetti (IMT School for Advanced Studies Lucca):
“Abducting minds: reverse inference and abductive reasoning in cognitive neuroscience”
Valia Allori (Northern Illinois University):
“Some Remarks on Explanation in Statistical Mechanics”
Anna-Mari Rusanen, Otto Lappi, Jami Pekkanen and Benjamin Cowley (University of Helsinki):
“Seeking Experimentally Established Relevant Dependencies: How Experimenters Think”
Mark Colyvan (University of Sydney):
“Counterpossibles and the End of Explanation”
13:15—14:30 Lunch Break
14:30—16:30 Parallel Sessions 2
Session 2A: Inference to the Best Explanantion Session 2B: Grounding and Relevance
Jonah N. Schupbach (University of Utah):
“IBE’s Uniqueness Claim, Hypothesis Competition, and Conjunctive Explanations”
Insa Lawler (Ruhr-Universität Bochum):
“Understanding why and answers to why-questions”
Marko Tesic, Benjamin Eva and Stephan Hartmann (MCMP, LMU Munich):
“Confirmation by Explanation: A Bayesian Justification of IBE”
James Binkoski (Dartmouth College):
“A Dependence Theory of Explanation”
Borut Trpin (University of Ljubljana) and Anton Donchev (New Bulgarian University):
“Inference to the Best of the Best Explanations”
Cyrille Imbert (CNRS & Université de Lorraine, Nancy):
“On the Epistemology of Explanatory (Ir)relevance or, Who is Afraid of Irrelevancies?”
16:30—17:00 Coffee Break
17:00—18:30 Aperiposter Session (click here to see the list of posters)

Tuesday, 12 June

9:30—10:45 Keynote speaker #2: Peter Brössel (Ruhr-Universität Bochum)

“The conjunction fallacy as inference to the best systematization”

10:45—11:15 Coffee Break
11:15—13:15 Parallel Sessions 3
Session 3A: Causation, Probability, Counterfactuals Room 3B: Explanation and Mechanisms
Holger Andreas (University of British Columbia) and Mario Günther (MCMP, LMU Munich):
“Explanatory Conditionals”
Francesca Poggiolesi (IHPST, Paris):
“Complexity, grounding and non-causal explanations in the light of Bolzano’s insights”
Mauricio Suárez (Universidad Complutense de Madrid):
“Explanatory Chance”
Matej Kohar (Ruhr-Universität Bochum):
“How mechanisms answer questions”
Erlantz Etxeberria (University of Western Ontario):
“Counterfactual Explanations and the Problem of Asymmetry”
Hernán Bobadilla (University of Vienna):
“Assessing the Explanatory Power of Mechanistic Explanations of Derivationally Robust Results in Computer Simulations: A Case Study in Models of Earthquakes”
14:30—16:30 Parallel Sessions 4
Session 4A: Bayesian Models Session 4B: Explanation and Understanding
Christian J. Feldbacher-Escamilla and Alexander Gebharter (Universität Düsseldorf):
“Modeling Creative Abduction Bayesian Style”
Eleonora Barelli (University of Bologna), Laura Branchetti (University of Parma) and Giovanni Ravaioli (University of Bologna):
“Understanding and trusting explanations based on simulations: an educational perspective for high school”
Stephan Hartmann, Alexander Reutlinger and Reuben Stern (MCMP, LMU Munich):
“What Makes Causal Explanation Causal?”
Emily Sullivan (TU Delft):
“Understanding from Machine Learning Models”
Vincenzo Crupi and Jan Sprenger (University of Turin):
“Unifying Causal Strength and Explanatory Power”
Philippe Verreault-Julien (Erasmus University Rotterdam):
“Learning and understanding with models: same same but different?”
16:30—17:00 Coffee Break
17:00—18:15 Keynote speaker #3: Lina Jansson (University of Nottingham)
“Explanatory Directionality and Non-Causal Explanations”
20:00— Conference Dinner at Maggazini Oz, Via Giolitti 19A, 10123 Torino

Wednesday, 13 June

9:30—11:30 Parallel Sessions 5
Session 5A: Scientific Models Room 5B: Realism vs. Instrumentalism
Lorenzo Casini (University of Geneva) and Alessio Moneta (Scuola Superiore Sant’Anna, Pisa):
“Independent Components and the Causation-Constitution Distinction”
Aleksandra Traykova (Durham University):
“Explanatory models of illness: institutionalized medical knowledge vs. patient narratives”
Naftali Weinberger (Tilburg University):
“How to not be Misled While Multi-Scale Modeling”
Yousuf Hasan (University of Western Ontario):
“Applying Carnap’s Internal/External Distinction to the Realism/Instrumentalism Debate with Respect to Atoms”
Eric Muszynski (University of Québec at Montreal):
“Constituent Explanations are not Enough: The Symmetry in Explanatory Power of Levels”
Juha Saatsi (University of Leeds):
“Overstretching IBE: Realism and the limits of explanatory reasoning”
11:30—12:00 Coffee Break
12:00—13:15 Keynote speaker #4: Michael Strevens (New York University)
“Causal Difference-Making and Inference to the Best Explanation”

Aperiposter session on Monday, 11 June, at 17:00

  • Mark Couch (Seton Hall University): “Strevens, Higher Levels, and Mechanisms”
  • Mike Dacey (Bates College): “Evidence against Default Models in Comparative Psychology”
  • Richard David-Rus (Romanian Academy and MCMP, LMU Munich): “Defending non-explanatory understanding: the case of possible explanations”
  • Regina Fabry (Justus-Liebig-Universität Gießen) and Markus Pantsar (University of Helsinki): “Of Levels, Competence, and Performance: Towards an Explanation of Enculturated Mathematical Problem Solving”
  • Ludwig Fahrbach (University of Düsseldorf): “The No-miracles argument is no IBE”
  • Mara Floris (University of Turin): “Explanation, Predictions and Accommodations: a case study from Cognitive Psychology”
  • Verónica Gómez (Rutgers University): “The crystallization account of special science laws”
  • Martin King (Bergische Universität Wuppertal): “Bona Fide Explanations in Physics”
  • David Kinney (London School of Economics): “Two Concepts of Independence for Imprecise Bayesian Networks”
  • Daniel Kostic (IHPST/Université Paris I Sorbonne): “The Role of Counterfactual Information in Topological Explanations”
  • Hylke Jellema (University of Groningen): “Inference to the best criminal explanation beyond a reasonable doubt”
  • Steve Petersen (Niagara University): “Explanatory unification as information compression”
  • Petter Sandstad and Ludger Jansen (University of Rostock): “Formal Causation Regained”
  • Yafeng Shan (Durham University): “In Defence of Contrastivism in Scientific Explanation”
  • Predrag Šustar and Zdenka Brzović (University of Rijeka): “Causal-Mechanical Explanation without Decomposition: The Origin of Genes”
  • Walter Veit (University of Bayreuth): “The Explanatory Power of Evolutionary Game Theory”
  • Martin Zach (Charles University, Prague): “Mechanistic explanation in agent-based modeling”

Abstracts of Invited Speakers

Peter Brössel: “The conjunction fallacy as inference to the best systematization”

Ever since Kahneman and Tversky’s systematic exposition of the conjunction fallacy (CF), it is typically taken to be the most striking example of human irrationality. The CF poses a challenge for psychologists and philosophers. Whereas psychologists are in search for the key variable that makes humans commit the CF, philosophers (and Bayesian cognitive scientists) are trying to save human rationality at least partially, e.g. by re-interpreting the underlying reasoning task or by showing that committing the CF can be rational if certain conditions are satisfied. Crupi and Tentori (and their collaborators) find the majority of these accounts problematic since they focus on perceived posterior probability as the key variable for eliciting the CF. Instead they suggest that CFs can be reliably predicted by the inductive confirmation one of the conjuncts receives. However, there is yet another promising account for explaining CFs: they are the result of an inference to the best systematization (IBS). In this paper I argue that while making the same predictions as Crupi and Tentori’s account, the IBS account of CF has various theoretical advantages for the agendas of psychologists and philosophers.

Lina Jansson: “Explanatory Directionality and Non-Causal Explanations”

A virtue of causal accounts is the ease by which they capture the directionality of explanation in many cases of explanations based on particular physical facts. However, it is more difficult to give a causal account of the directionality of explanation in cases of mathematical explanations of physical facts and explanations based on symmetry constraints. I will present an account of explanatory directionality that has a natural extension from explanations based on particular physical facts to explanations based on mathematical facts and symmetry constraints.

Tania Lombrozo: “Explaining for the Best Inference”

Empirical evidence supports the idea that people use explanatory criteria — such as the simplicity and breadth of an explanatory hypothesis — as a basis for making or evaluating an inference to the truth of that explanatory hypothesis. However, there are also cases in which generating and evaluating explanations appears to have positive epistemic consequences even though the explanatory hypotheses that are entertained are inaccurate. Daniel Wilkenfeld and I have called this “Explaining for the Best Inference” to highlight the fact that in such cases, the process of explaining supports better subsequent inferences, whether or not the explanation that is inferred is itself true. I will review evidence that this process occurs, present some hypotheses about how explaining could be beneficial in such cases, and link these proposals to ideas from philosophy of science and epistemology.

Michael Strevens: “Causal Difference-Making and Inference to the Best Explanation”

Explainers are difference-makers, and scientific explainers are (for the most part) causal difference-makers—so many of us believe. If there is such a thing as scientific inference to the best explanation, then, it is more often than not inference from phenomena to the causal difference-makers that explain them. That sounds sensible, as Peter Lipton remarked 25 years ago. I will refresh this venerable line of thought by investigating ways in which more recent work on the difference-making approach to causal explanation illuminates characteristic features of scientific confirmation, above all the fact, emphasized by Clark Glymour, that phenomena are typically considered to confirm some but not all elements of the theories that predict them.