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1. 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).

2. 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.

3. 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.

4. 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.

5. 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.

6. 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.

7. 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.”

8. 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.

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

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