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# Unifying the debates: mathematical and non-causal explanations

We are pleased to announce a workshop on mathematical and non-causal explanations at the IHPST/CNRS in Paris on 28-29 June 2017**. **The attendance is free and all are welcome.

**Unifying the debates: mathematical and non-causal explanations**

** Venue**: IHPST, Salle de Conférence (2nd Floor, 13 rue du Four, 75006, Paris)

** Dates**: 28-29 June, 2017.

The participants of the workshop are the proponents of opposing views in each of the debates, some of whom take part in several of the debates, not just in one. The workshop will provide a platform for unifying the debates around several key issues and thus open up avenues for better understanding of mathematical and non-causal explanations in general, but also, it will enable even better understanding of key issues within each of the debates.

**Program**

**28 June 2017 – Salle de Conférence (2nd Floor, 13 rue du Four, 75006, Paris)**

09:45-10:00 – Daniel Kostic (IHPST/CNRS/University Paris 1 Sorbonne) - Welcome and opening of the workshop

10:00-10:45 – Marc Lange (University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill) - Are there both causal and non-causal explanations of a rocket’s acceleration?

10:45-11:30 - Holly Andersen (Simon Fraser University) - Pragmatic explanations and conservation laws

11:30-11:45 - Coffee & Tea pause

11:45-12:30 - Robert Batterman (University of Pittsburgh) - Universality, Stability, Autonomy, and Scales

12:30-14:30 - Lunch break

14:30-15:15 - Daniel Kostic (IHPST/CNRS/University Paris 1 Sorbonne) - Noetic structure of topological explanation: a heuristic for characterizing scientific understanding in mathematical and non-causal explanations

15:15-16:00 - Juha Saatsi (University of Leeds) - Mathematics, Explanatory Generality, and Ontological Commitment

16:00-16:15 - Coffee & Tea pause

16:15-17:00 - Lina Jansson (The University of Nottingham) - Conditions of Application and Non-Causal Dependence

17:00-17:30 -1st day panel discussion chaired by Daniel Kostic (IHPST/CNRS/University Paris 1 Sorbonne)

18:00 - Offical workshop dinner

**29 June 2017 – Salle de Conférence (2nd Floor, 13 rue du Four, 75006, Paris)**

10:00-10:45 – Philippe Huneman (IHPST/CNRS/University Paris 1 Sorbonne) - Neutral spaces and topological explanations in evolutionary biology: lessons from some landscapes and mappings

10:45-11:30 - Francesca Poggiolesi (IHPST/CNRS/University Paris 1 Sorbonne) - On defining formal grounding and applying such definition to non-causal scientific explanations

11:30-11:45 - Coffee & Tea pause

11:45-12:30 - Andre Ariew (University of Missouri Columbia) - Setting causes aside: statistically autonomous explanation

12:30-14:30 - Lunch break

14:30-15:15 - Denis Walsh (IHPST/University of Toronto)- Explanation: A Functional Anatomy

15:15-16:00 - Mauricio Suarez (Complutense University Madrid) -Explanatory Chance

16:00-16:15 - Coffee & Tea pause

16:30-17:30 - 2nd day and general panel discussion chaired by Jean Gayon (IHPST/CNRS/University Paris 1 Sorbonne

17:30- Wine reception

**Workshop description**

In the last couple of years a few seemingly independent debates on scientific explanation have emerged, with several key questions that take different forms in different areas. For example, the question what makes an explanation distinctly mathematical and are there any non-causal explanations in sciences (i.e. explanations that don’t cite causes in the explanans) sometimes take a form of the question what makes mathematical models explanatory, especially whether highly idealized models in science can be explanatory and in in virtue of what they are explanatory. These questions raise further issues about counterfactuals, modality and explanatory asymmetries, i.e. do mathematical and non-causal explanations support counterfactuals, and how to understand explanatory asymmetries in non-causal explanations. Even though these are very common issues in the philosophy of physics and mathematics, they can be found in a different guise in the philosophy of biology, where there is the statistical interpretation of the Modern Synthesis theory of evolution, according to which the post-Darwinian theory of natural selection explains evolutionary change by citing statistical properties of populations and not the causes of change. These questions also arise in philosophy of ecology or neuroscience in regard to the nature of topological explanations. The question here is whether in network models in biology, ecology, neuroscience and computer science the mathematical or more precisely topological properties can be explanatory of physical phenomena, or they are just different ways to represent causal structures.

The aim of the workshop is to unify all these debates around several overlapping questions. These questions are:

- Are there genuinely or distinctively mathematical and non-causal explanations?
- Are all distinctively mathematical explanations also non-causal?
- In virtue of what are they explanatory, is it the finding of critical exponents which delimit universality classes or information about the counterfactual dependency relations embedded in the logical necessity underlying a mathematical structure?
- Does the instantiation, implementation or in general, does applicability of mathematical structures to variety of phenomena and systems play any explanatory role?
- What makes them universally applicable?
- Is it the geneicity in which generic and rudimentary features of particular types of mathematical explanations (such as topological) that make them universally applicable?
- Or is it because they explain by providing an understanding of mathematical structure independently from being instantiated in any particular system?
- Or if they can be explanatory only when the details of instantiation are provided, is it then some ontological fact that makes them universally applicable to a variety of very diverse phenomena, e.g. is there some fundamental physical fact in virtue of which many real-world systems exhibit or instantiate certain topologies?

*The workshop is funded by the Marie Skłodowska-Curie project “Philosophical Foundations of Topological Explanations” (TOPEX), through People Programme (Marie Curie Actions) of the European Union's H2020-MSCA-IF-2015 Programme under REA grant agreement n° (703662)**,** and **by** the ANR projects “Explabio” and LIA CNRS ECIEB.*

**Contact person**: Daniel Kostic (IHPST/CNRS/University Paris 1 Sorbonne); Email: daniel.kostic@gmail.com