Explanatory anti-psychologism overturned by lay and scientific case classifications

Jonathan Waskan, Ian Harmon, Zachary Horne, Joseph Spino, John Clevenger

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

11 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Many philosophers of science follow Hempel in embracing both substantive and methodological anti-psychologism regarding the study of explanation. The former thesis denies that explanations are constituted by psychological events, and the latter denies that psychological research can contribute much to the philosophical investigation of the nature of explanation. Substantive anti-psychologism is commonly defended by citing cases, such as hyper-complex descriptions or vast computer simulations, which are reputedly generally agreed to constitute explanations but which defy human comprehension and, as a result, fail to engender any relevant psychological events. It is commonly held that the truth of the substantive thesis would lend support to the methodological thesis. However, the standard argument for the substantive thesis presumes that philosophers' own judgments about the aforementioned cases issues from mastery of the lay or scientific norms regarding the use of 'explanation.' Here we challenge this presumption with a series of experiments indicating that both lay and scientific populations require of explanations that they actually render their targets intelligible. This research not only undermines a standard line of argument for substantive anti-psychologism, it demonstrates the utility of psychological research methods for answering meta-questions about the norms regarding the use of 'explanation.'

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1013-1035
Number of pages23
JournalSynthese
Volume191
Issue number5
DOIs
StatePublished - Jan 1 2014
Externally publishedYes

Fingerprint

event
Anti-psychologism
computer simulation
research method
comprehension
Psychological
Psychological Research
experiment
science
Philosophers of Science
Mastery
Render
Philosopher
Computer Simulation
Presumption
Research Methods
Scientific Norms
Experiment
Philosophical Investigations

Keywords

  • Explanation
  • Intelligibility
  • Psychologism

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Philosophy
  • Social Sciences(all)

Cite this

Explanatory anti-psychologism overturned by lay and scientific case classifications. / Waskan, Jonathan; Harmon, Ian; Horne, Zachary; Spino, Joseph; Clevenger, John.

In: Synthese, Vol. 191, No. 5, 01.01.2014, p. 1013-1035.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Waskan, Jonathan ; Harmon, Ian ; Horne, Zachary ; Spino, Joseph ; Clevenger, John. / Explanatory anti-psychologism overturned by lay and scientific case classifications. In: Synthese. 2014 ; Vol. 191, No. 5. pp. 1013-1035.
@article{748088a5919a4c2f90c2b970b2b77a70,
title = "Explanatory anti-psychologism overturned by lay and scientific case classifications",
abstract = "Many philosophers of science follow Hempel in embracing both substantive and methodological anti-psychologism regarding the study of explanation. The former thesis denies that explanations are constituted by psychological events, and the latter denies that psychological research can contribute much to the philosophical investigation of the nature of explanation. Substantive anti-psychologism is commonly defended by citing cases, such as hyper-complex descriptions or vast computer simulations, which are reputedly generally agreed to constitute explanations but which defy human comprehension and, as a result, fail to engender any relevant psychological events. It is commonly held that the truth of the substantive thesis would lend support to the methodological thesis. However, the standard argument for the substantive thesis presumes that philosophers' own judgments about the aforementioned cases issues from mastery of the lay or scientific norms regarding the use of 'explanation.' Here we challenge this presumption with a series of experiments indicating that both lay and scientific populations require of explanations that they actually render their targets intelligible. This research not only undermines a standard line of argument for substantive anti-psychologism, it demonstrates the utility of psychological research methods for answering meta-questions about the norms regarding the use of 'explanation.'",
keywords = "Explanation, Intelligibility, Psychologism",
author = "Jonathan Waskan and Ian Harmon and Zachary Horne and Joseph Spino and John Clevenger",
year = "2014",
month = "1",
day = "1",
doi = "10.1007/s11229-013-0304-2",
language = "English (US)",
volume = "191",
pages = "1013--1035",
journal = "Synthese",
issn = "0039-7857",
publisher = "Springer Netherlands",
number = "5",

}

TY - JOUR

T1 - Explanatory anti-psychologism overturned by lay and scientific case classifications

AU - Waskan, Jonathan

AU - Harmon, Ian

AU - Horne, Zachary

AU - Spino, Joseph

AU - Clevenger, John

PY - 2014/1/1

Y1 - 2014/1/1

N2 - Many philosophers of science follow Hempel in embracing both substantive and methodological anti-psychologism regarding the study of explanation. The former thesis denies that explanations are constituted by psychological events, and the latter denies that psychological research can contribute much to the philosophical investigation of the nature of explanation. Substantive anti-psychologism is commonly defended by citing cases, such as hyper-complex descriptions or vast computer simulations, which are reputedly generally agreed to constitute explanations but which defy human comprehension and, as a result, fail to engender any relevant psychological events. It is commonly held that the truth of the substantive thesis would lend support to the methodological thesis. However, the standard argument for the substantive thesis presumes that philosophers' own judgments about the aforementioned cases issues from mastery of the lay or scientific norms regarding the use of 'explanation.' Here we challenge this presumption with a series of experiments indicating that both lay and scientific populations require of explanations that they actually render their targets intelligible. This research not only undermines a standard line of argument for substantive anti-psychologism, it demonstrates the utility of psychological research methods for answering meta-questions about the norms regarding the use of 'explanation.'

AB - Many philosophers of science follow Hempel in embracing both substantive and methodological anti-psychologism regarding the study of explanation. The former thesis denies that explanations are constituted by psychological events, and the latter denies that psychological research can contribute much to the philosophical investigation of the nature of explanation. Substantive anti-psychologism is commonly defended by citing cases, such as hyper-complex descriptions or vast computer simulations, which are reputedly generally agreed to constitute explanations but which defy human comprehension and, as a result, fail to engender any relevant psychological events. It is commonly held that the truth of the substantive thesis would lend support to the methodological thesis. However, the standard argument for the substantive thesis presumes that philosophers' own judgments about the aforementioned cases issues from mastery of the lay or scientific norms regarding the use of 'explanation.' Here we challenge this presumption with a series of experiments indicating that both lay and scientific populations require of explanations that they actually render their targets intelligible. This research not only undermines a standard line of argument for substantive anti-psychologism, it demonstrates the utility of psychological research methods for answering meta-questions about the norms regarding the use of 'explanation.'

KW - Explanation

KW - Intelligibility

KW - Psychologism

UR - http://www.scopus.com/inward/record.url?scp=84897976048&partnerID=8YFLogxK

UR - http://www.scopus.com/inward/citedby.url?scp=84897976048&partnerID=8YFLogxK

U2 - 10.1007/s11229-013-0304-2

DO - 10.1007/s11229-013-0304-2

M3 - Article

VL - 191

SP - 1013

EP - 1035

JO - Synthese

JF - Synthese

SN - 0039-7857

IS - 5

ER -