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1. Theoria: An International Journal for Theory, History and Foundations of Science: Volume > 39 > Issue: 1
Fernando Rudy-Hiller Orcid-ID

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Reductionists about testimony think that testimony is never a basic source of justification. By contrast, anti-reductionists claim that, at least in some paradigmatic cases, testimony is a basic and independent source of justification. In support of their position, anti-reductionists usually claim that paradigmatic testimony-based beliefs are non-inferential in that recipients of testimony usually don’t reason their way from the fact that they were told that p to the belief that p —they simply come to believe that p. In this paper I explore in detail the idea that paradigmatic testimony-based beliefs are non-inferentially justified and conclude that it is grounded on an overly simplistic characterization of inferential relations. Then, and taking my cue from Malmgren’s (2018) proposal about the varieties of inferential relations, I defend the view that paradigmatic testimony-based beliefs are inferentially justified after all.
2. Theoria: An International Journal for Theory, History and Foundations of Science: Volume > 39 > Issue: 1
Manuel Almagro Orcid-ID

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Current discussions in the political arena tend to be very unproductive and difficult to resolve. Recent literature suggests that this is the case because most of our political discussions are instances of deep disagreement. Against this story, this paper explores an alternative route: deep disagreements don’t tend to be more unfruitful than other types of disagreement. But then, why many real-life cases of political deep disagreement seem to be so unproductive and difficult to resolve? To address this question, I first distinguish two senses in which a discussion can be considered “deep”, and call them deep disagreement and deep conflict. Second, I argue that most of our current political discussions are unfruitful not because they are instances of deep disagreement, but of deep conflict.
3. Theoria: An International Journal for Theory, History and Foundations of Science: Volume > 39 > Issue: 1
Pío García Orcid-ID

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In this article we propose an analysis of the controversy between Geoffrey Jefferson and Alan Turing in terms of a Kuhnian account of thought experiments. In this account, the main task is not to evaluate intuitions or (only) to rearrange concepts. Instead, we propose that the main task is to construct scenarios by proposing relevant experiences in which shared assumptions and conflicting lines of inquiry can be made explicit. From this perspective, we can understand the arguments and assumptions in the Jefferson-Turing thinking machine controversy.
4. Theoria: An International Journal for Theory, History and Foundations of Science: Volume > 39 > Issue: 1
Zili Dong Orcid-ID

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Despite being a milestone in the history of statistical causal inference, Sewall Wright’s 1918 invention of path analysis did not receive much immediate attention from the statistical and scientific community. Through a careful historical analysis, this paper reveals some previously overlooked philosophical issues concerning the history of causal inference. Placing the invention of path analysis in a broader historical and intellectual context, I portray the scientific community’s initial lack of interest in the method as a natural consequence of relevant scientific and philosophical conditions. In addition to Karl Pearson’s positivist refutation of causation, I contend that the acceptance of path analysis faced several other challenges, including the introduction of a new formalism, conceptual barriers to causal inference, and the lack of model-based statistical thinking. The presence of these challenges shows that the delayed progress in causal inference in the early twentieth century was inevitable.
5. Theoria: An International Journal for Theory, History and Foundations of Science: Volume > 39 > Issue: 1
Cristina Villegas, Orcid-ID Felipe Morales Carbonell Orcid-ID

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The use of dispositions has been put into question many times in the philosophical literature, especially with regards to how dispositional attributions can be justified. Yet, dispositions are an important part not only of our everyday talk but also of our scientific practices. In this paper, we develop an argument that infers the epistemic justification of dispositional talk from its indispensability for carrying out basic epistemological projects, and we apply it to the use of dispositions in evolutionary biology. For doing this, we first advocate for a function-based strategy for the epistemic justification of dispositional attributions. We next review the functional role of some key dispositional notions in evolutionary biology, such as fitness and evolvability. Then, we show that alternative non-dispositional substitutes of these dispositions fail to fulfill their roles to the same degree. We conclude that the use of dispositions is justified in evolutionary biology.
6. Theoria: An International Journal for Theory, History and Foundations of Science: Volume > 39 > Issue: 1
Bohang Chen Orcid-ID

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This article adopts a minimal definition of biological usage to demonstrate that the debate over biological function encompasses two distinct dimensions: descriptive and prescriptive. In the descriptive dimension, biological usage serves as the final arbiter for evaluating different accounts of biological function. Conversely, in the prescriptive dimension, accounts are formulated despite biological usage. The main thesis of this article is that the descriptive/prescriptive distinction helps make better sense of the biological function debate from a novel perspective. This is elucidated by meticulously analyzing the two dimensions and subsequently providing a global overview of the debate.

7. Theoria: An International Journal for Theory, History and Foundations of Science: Volume > 39 > Issue: 1

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8. Theoria: An International Journal for Theory, History and Foundations of Science: Volume > 38 > Issue: 3
Arantza Etxeberria Agiriano, Orcid-ID María José García-Encinas Orcid-ID

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This monographic issue contains a long article bringing together the Lullius Lectures delivered by Professor Sandra Mitchell during the Xth Conference of the Society of Logic, Methodology, and Philosophy of Science in Spain, that took place in Salamanca (16-19 November, 2021). The publication of her Lectures is complemented by six original articles that address and examine different aspects of Sandra Mitchell’s contributions to the philosophy of science. In this introduction to the monograph, the editors present the broad outlines of the Lullius Lectures given by Mitchell on the landscape of integrative pluralism. We accompany this overview with a review of some of the fundamental concepts of her philosophy as reviewed and discussed by the original articles included in the monograph on integrative pluralism (Deulofeu & Suarez, 2023; and Van Der Merwe, 2023), emergence (Onnis, 2023), scientific laws (Andersen, 2023; and Plutynski, 2023), and realism (Bertolaso & Sterpetti, 2023).

9. Theoria: An International Journal for Theory, History and Foundations of Science: Volume > 38 > Issue: 3
Sandra D. Mitchell Orcid-ID

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In this essay, I revisit and extend my arguments for a view of science that is pluralistic, perspectival and pragmatist. I attempt to resolve mismatches between metaphysical assumptions, epistemological desiderata, and scientific practice. I consider long-held views about unity of science and reductionism, emergent properties and physicalism, exceptionless necessity in explanatory laws, and in the justification for realism. My solutions appeal to the partiality of representation, the perspectivism of theories and data, and the interactive co-construction of warranted claims for realism.

10. Theoria: An International Journal for Theory, History and Foundations of Science: Volume > 38 > Issue: 3
Roger Deulofeu, Orcid-ID Javier Suárez Orcid-ID

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This paper critically examines Mitchell’s integrative pluralism. Integrative pluralism is the view that scientific explanations should primarily aim to integrate descriptions from different ontological levels. We contend that, while integrative pluralism is a fundamental strategy in contemporary science, there are specific reasons why one should not expect integration in the sense developed by Mitchell to be the optimal strategy and the one that scientists should always aim for. Drawing on some examples from contemporary biology, we argue that integration is sometimes neither epistemically desirable, nor ontologically achievable. We conclude that integrative pluralism should thus be limited to a specific class of complex systems but cannot be generalised as the preferable research strategy without further information about the epistemic practices of the scientific community or the ontology of the system under investigation.

11. Theoria: An International Journal for Theory, History and Foundations of Science: Volume > 38 > Issue: 3
Ragnar van der Merwe Orcid-ID

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Epistemic pluralists often argue that different epistemic perspectives in science are equally warranted given different contexts. Sandra Mitchell —with her Integrative Pluralism (IP)— has notably advocated for this kind of epistemic pluralism. A problem arises for Mitchell because she also wants to be an epistemological pluralist. She claims that, not only are different epistemic perspectives in science equally warranted, but different understandings of these epistemic perspectives in science are also equally warranted. The problem is that Mitchell presents her understanding of epistemic perspectives in science (IP) as if it is the correct understanding. It is, then, contradictory to claim that there is more than one such understanding. As a solution, I suggest we follow Feyerabend in being opportunistic pluralists. We can adopt pluralism as a short-term strategy in the pursuit of long-term unitary goals. One such goal is what philosophers of understanding call objectual understanding, which appears to be the kind of understanding that pluralistic views like IP tacitly aspire to anyway.

12. Theoria: An International Journal for Theory, History and Foundations of Science: Volume > 38 > Issue: 3
Erica Onnis Orcid-ID

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Despite the common use of the concept of emergence, no uncontroversial theoretical framework has been yet formulated in this regard. In this paper, I examine what this circumstance suggests about the significance and usefulness of this concept. I first trace a brief history of the notion of emergence from its first formulation among the British Emergentists to its contemporary uses. Then, I outline its most common features and examine three examples of emergent phenomena, namely particle decay, free will, and division of labour in ant colonies. These three cases of emergence exhibit different features and imply criteria which only partially overlap. I then suggest that the multiplicity of features and criteria recognised as defining emergence, rather than being a threat to the tenability of the concept, should encourage the assumption of a pluralist attitude that is consistent with both the employment of this idea in different sciences and the recognition of emergent phenomena across different levels of organisation. Finally, I propose that emergence can be approached in a similar way to how Richard Boyd approached the problem of natural kinds, namely by identifying an open cluster of properties, rather than a set of necessary and sufficient conditions.

13. Theoria: An International Journal for Theory, History and Foundations of Science: Volume > 38 > Issue: 3
H.K. Andersen Orcid-ID

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Humean accounts of laws are often contrasted with governing accounts, and recent developments have added pragmatic versions of Humeanism. This article offers Mitchell’s pragmatist, perspectival account of laws as a third option. The differences between these accounts come down to the role of modality. Mitchell’s bottom-up account allows for subtle gradations of modal content to be conveyed by laws. The perspectival character of laws is not an accident or something to be eventually eliminated – it is part of how this modal content is conveyed. I conclude with a discussion of the metaphysical commitments in Humeanism as requiring a perspectiveless view of the manifold from outside, and how Mitchell’s situated account is better able to account for the substantive notion of possibility involved in scientific laws.

14. Theoria: An International Journal for Theory, History and Foundations of Science: Volume > 38 > Issue: 3
Anya Plutynski Orcid-ID

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Mitchell’s philosophical contributions are part of an ongoing conversation among philosophers and scientists about laws and unification in biology, going back at least to Darwin. This article situates Mitchell in this conversation, explains why and how she has correctly guided us away from false idols, and engages several difficult questions she leaves open. I argue that there are different epistemic roles laws (or models describing lawlike regularities) play in biological inquiry. First, they play the role of “how possibly” explanations, akin to Herschel’s characterization of Whewell’s “a priori Pegasus,” and second, they provide descriptions of empirical regularities, akin to the “plain matter of fact roadster.”

15. Theoria: An International Journal for Theory, History and Foundations of Science: Volume > 38 > Issue: 3
Marta Bertolaso, Orcid-ID Fabio Sterpetti Orcid-ID

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This article aims at discussing an interesting variant of scientific realism recently proposed and defended by Sandra Mitchell (forthcoming), namely an affordances-based and pragmatist variant of scientific realism. We firstly place Mitchell’s proposal in the context of the current state of the debate over scientific realism. Secondly, we summarize the salient features of Mitchell’s proposal. Thirdly, we point out some aspects of that proposal that might require some further refinement and clarification in order to make it less prone to criticisms by both realists and antirealists. More precisely, in this paper we address the following issues: 1) whether Mitchell’s proposal can be classified as a genuine form of scientific realism; 2) whether the fact that in Mitchell’s proposal figure some variants of the no miracle argument is in tension with some other of its features.

16. Theoria: An International Journal for Theory, History and Foundations of Science: Volume > 38 > Issue: 3

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articles

17. Theoria: An International Journal for Theory, History and Foundations of Science: Volume > 38 > Issue: 2
Alba Massolo Orcid-ID

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This paper advocates for the normative role of logic in reasoning. I offer a response, anchored in an externalist perspective, to two fronts of attack against the normativity thesis, namely Harman’s sceptical challenge and the accusation of naturalistic fallacy. On the one hand, I rework dialogical bridge principles and show that such principles satisfy adequacy criteria to deal with Harman’s challenge. On the other hand, I argue that it is possible to derive normative consequences from logical facts. This is because argumentative interactions among agents involve the acceptance of constitutive rules that entail obligations. Hence, since logical rules can be seen as constitutive of the social practice of reasoning, they create prescriptions for reasoning. Bridge principles make those obligations and prohibitions explicit.
18. Theoria: An International Journal for Theory, History and Foundations of Science: Volume > 38 > Issue: 2
Kael McCormack Orcid-ID

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Alex Gregory (2017a; 2017b; 2018; 2021) provides an ingenious, systematic defence of the view that desires are a species of belief about normative reasons. This view explains how desires make actions rationally intelligible. Its main rival, which is attractive for the same reason, says that desires involve a quasi-perceptual appearance of value. Gregory (2017a; 2018; 2021) has argued that his view provides the superior explanation of how desires are sensitive to evidence. Here, I show that the quasi-perceptual view fairs better in this regard. Negatively, I argue that Gregory’s view overestimates the evidence-sensitivity of desires and implies that we are systematically mistaken in having different attitudes about desires and beliefs. Positively, I argue that quasi-perceptual appearances of value are brought into the scope of rational control through their dependence on prior representational states. I also provide a novel explanation of why some kinds of desires are resistant to rational control. I propose that desires are produced through exercises of an affective capacity to discriminate value. Variations in the way this capacity is exercised, and its links to prior representational states, can produce systematic insensitivity to evidence in certain kinds of desires. This paper advances the debate around desire on two fronts: first, it performs the neglected task of showing how the quasi-perceptual view can simultaneously explain both the sensitivity and insensitivity to evidence exhibited by desires and, second, it shows how the explanation offered is superior to one of its closest rivals, the view that desires are a species of normative belief.
19. Theoria: An International Journal for Theory, History and Foundations of Science: Volume > 38 > Issue: 2
Hadis Farokhi Kakesh Orcid-ID

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According to a well-established view of desire satisfaction, a desire that p is satisfied iff p obtains. Call this the ‘standard view’. The standard view is purely semantic, which means the satisfaction condition of desires is placed in the truth of the embedded proposition that indicates the content of the desire. This paper aims to defend the standard view against two frequently discussed problems: the problem of underspecification and desires conditional on their own persistence. The former holds that the standard view cannot capture the specific ways of desire satisfaction. The latter holds that the standard view does not provide sufficient conditions for the satisfaction of desires conditional on their own persistence. To address the first problem, I will clarify two different interpretations of desire ascriptions using de re/de dicto distinction. My argument to address the second problem rests on the disambiguation of different senses of satisfaction: semantic and agent.
20. Theoria: An International Journal for Theory, History and Foundations of Science: Volume > 38 > Issue: 2
Cord Friebe Orcid-ID

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The paper spells out the thesis that the crucial, substantial move of presentism should be to temporalize modality. The present is not simply actual, and the future not simply possible, but the present is becoming actual, and the present’s becoming actual is future’s becoming possible (and past’s becoming necessary). I will argue that by so temporalizing modality, as modes of becoming rather than of being, the presentists can make room for the future (and the past), can answer the triviality-objection raised against them, and can provide a specific account of presentist change.