Browsing by Subject "explanation"

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  • Ylikoski, Petri; Zahle, Julie (2019)
    In this paper, we offer an introduction to case study research in the social sciences. We begin with a discussion of the definition of case study research. Next, we point to various purposes that case study research may serve in the social sciences and then turn to outline the main philosophical issues raised by case study research. Finally, we briefly present the papers in this special issue.
  • Pozzoni, Gianluca; Kaidesoja, Tuukka (2021)
    In this article, we discuss the issue of context-dependence of mechanism-based explanation in the social sciences. The different ways in which the context-dependence and context-independence of mechanism-based explanation have been understood in the social sciences are often motivated by different and apparently incompatible understandings of what explanatory mechanisms are. Instead, we suggest that the different varieties of context-dependence are best seen as corresponding to different research goals. Rather than conflicting with one another, these goals are complementary to each other and therefore pave the way to a methodologically more cooperative approach to mechanism-based explanation in the social sciences.
  • Ylikoski, Petri K; Kuorikoski, Jaakko (2010)
    Comparisons of rival explanations or theories often involve vague appeals to explanatory power. In this paper, we dissect this metaphor by distinguishing between different dimensions of the goodness of an explanation: non-sensitivity, cognitive salience, precision, factual accuracy and degree of integration. These dimensions are partially independent and often come into conflict. Our main contribution is to go beyond simple stipulation or description by explicating why these factors are taken to be explanatory virtues. We accomplish this by using the contrastive-counterfactual approach to explanation and the view of understanding as an inferential ability. By combining these perspectives, we show how the explanatory power of an explanation in a given dimension can be assessed by showing the range of answers it provides to what-if-things-had-been-different questions and the theoretical and pragmatic importance of these questions. Our account also explains intuitions linking explanation to unification or to exhibition of a mechanism.
  • Aydinonat, N. Emrah; Köksal, Emin (2019)
    There is a striking contrast between the significance of Harold Hotelling’s contribution to industrial economics and the fact that his location model was invalid, unrealistic and non-robust. It is difficult to make sense of the explanatory value of Hotelling’s model based on philosophical accounts that emphasize logical validity, representational adequacy, and robustness as determinants of explanatory value. However, these accounts are misleading because they overlook the context within which the explanatory value added of a model is apprehensible. We present Hotelling’s model in its historical context and show why it is an important and explanatory model despite its apparent deficiencies.
  • Marchionni, Caterina; Ylikoski, Petri K (2013)
    Social scientists associate agent-based simulation (ABS) models with three ideas about explanation: they provide generative explanations, they are models of mechanisms, and they implement methodological individualism. In light of a philosophical account of explanation, we show that these ideas are not necessarily related and offer an account of the explanatory import of ABS models. We also argue that their bottom-up research strategy should be distinguished from methodological individualism.
  • Mireles-Flores, Luis (2018)
    This essay is a review of the recent literature on the methodology of economics, with a focus on three broad trends that have defined the core lines of research within the discipline during the last two decades. These trends are: (a) the philosophical analysis of economic modelling and economic explanation; (b) the epistemology of causal inference, evidence diversity, and evidence-based policy, and (c) the investigation of the methodological underpinnings and public policy implications of behavioural economics. The final output is inevitably not exhaustive, yet it aims at offering a fair taste of some of the most representative questions in the field on which many philosophers, methodologists, and social scientists have recently been placing a great deal of intellectual effort. The topics and references compiled in this review should serve at least as safe introductions to some of the central research questions in the philosophy and methodology of economics.
  • Ylikoski, Petri Kullervo (Routledge, 2017)
    Routledge Handbooks in Philosophy
    Social mechanisms and mechanism-based explanation have attracted considerable attention in the social sciences and the philosophy of science during the past two decades. The idea of mechanistic explanation has proved to be a useful tool for criticizing existing research practices and meta-theoretical views on the nature of the social-scientific enterprise. Many definitions of social mechanisms have been articulated, and have been used to support a wide variety of methodological and theoretical claims. It is impossible to cover all of these in one chapter, so I will merely highlight some of the most prominent and philosophically interesting ideas.
  • Ylikoski, Petri K (2013)
    In his paper Karl-Dieter Opp heroically sets out to defend both the adequacy and socio- logical fruitfulness of the covering-law account of explanation (the HO scheme). The attempt is bold, as he is not only defending the HO scheme as a theory of explanation but also as a scheme for finding and establishing causal relationships. In this reply I argue that the defense is not successful; quite the contrary, it clearly demonstrates why mecha- nism-based reasoning is important in the social sciences. I also argue that this change in metatheoretical perspective has implications for thinking about the role of rational choice theory in sociology, which should not be seen as a foundational theory but rather as a version of commonsense psychology that can be used for modeling purposes.
  • Aydinonat, Nuri Emrah (2018)
    In Economics Rules, Rodrik [(2015). Economics rules: Why economics works, when it fails, and how to tell the difference. Oxford: Oxford University Press] argues that what makes economics powerful despite the limitations of each and every model is its diversity of models. Rodrik suggests that the diversity of models in economics improves its explanatory capacities, but he does not fully explain how. I offer a clearer picture of how models relate to explanations of particular economic facts or events, and suggest that the diversity of models is a means to better economic explanations.
  • Ylikoski, Petri K (Edward Elgar, 2021)