Petri Ylikoski

Petri Ylikoski
University of Helsinki | HY · Department of Sociology

PhD

About

80
Publications
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1,772
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January 2015 - December 2022
Linköping University
Position
  • Professor
Description
  • Visiting professor

Publications

Publications (80)
Article
Full-text available
This paper provides an inferentialist account of model-based understanding by combining a counterfactual account of explanation and an inferentialist account of representation with a view of modeling as extended cognition. This account makes it understandable how the manipulation of surrogate systems like models can provide genuinely new empirical...
Chapter
Analytical sociology shares an historical lineage with the sociological rational-choice tradition. However, there are fundamental differences as well. The chapter articulates these differences so that the relation between analytical sociology and rational-choice sociology becomes clearer. It begins by examining what people mean when they talk about...
Chapter
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Article
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During the past decade, social mechanisms and mechanism-based explanations have received considerable attention in the social sciences as well as in the philosophy of science. This article critically reviews the most important philosophical and social science contributions to the mechanism approach. The first part discusses the idea of mechanism-ba...
Article
Full-text available
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 independe...
Article
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Models are widely used for investigating cause-effect relationships in complex systems. However, often different models yield diverging causal claims about specific phenomena. Therefore, critical reflection is needed on causal insights derived from modeling. As an example, we here compare ecological models dealing with the dynamics and collapse of...
Article
Full-text available
In social-ecological systems (SES), where social and ecological processes are intertwined, phenomena are usually complex and involve multiple interdependent causes. Figuring out causal relationships is thus challenging but needed to better understand and then affect or manage such systems. One important and widely used tool to identify and communic...
Article
Full-text available
We argue that the appraisal of models in social epistemology requires conceiving of them as argumentative devices, taking into account the argumentative context and adopting a family-of-models perspective. We draw up such an account and show how it makes it easier to see the value and limits of the use of models in social epistemology. To illustrat...
Article
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This paper investigates how unsupervised machine learning methods might make hermeneutic interpretive text analysis more objective in the social sciences. Through a close examination of the uses of topic modeling—a popular unsupervised approach in the social sciences—it argues that the primary way in which unsupervised learning supports interpretat...
Preprint
Full-text available
In this Chapter, we address the challenge of explaining institutional change, asking whether the much-criticized rational choice perspective can contribute to the understanding of institutional change in political science. We discuss the methodological reasons why rational choice institutionalism (RCI) often assumes that institutional change is exo...
Article
In this Chapter, we address the challenge of explaining institutional change, asking whether the much-criticized rational choice perspective can contribute to the understanding of institutional change in political science. We discuss the methodological reasons why rational choice institutionalism (RCI) often assumes that institutional change is exo...
Article
Full-text available
We argue that the appraisal of models in social epistemology requires conceiving of them as argumentative devices, taking into account the argumentative context and adopting a family-of-models perspective. We draw up such an account and show how it makes it easier to see the value and limits of the use of models in social epistemology. To illustrat...
Preprint
We argue that the appraisal of models in social epistemology requires conceiving of them as argumentative devices, taking into account the argumentative context and adopting a family-of-models perspective. We draw up such an account and show how it makes it easier to see the value and limits of the use of models in social epistemology. To illustrat...
Article
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 bri...
Book
Yhteiskuntatieteellinen tutkimus on pohjimmiltaan kysymyksiin vastaamista. Kysymysten avulla hahmotellaan yhteiskunnallisille ilmiöille syitä ja seurauksia. Mikä rooli syy-seuraussuhteiden ymmärtämisellä sitten on arvioitaessa ja täsmennettäessä yhteiskuntatieteellisiä selitysmalleja? Kausaalinen järkeily ja selittäminen läpäisee kaikkea yhteiskunt...
Article
Full-text available
Generalization from a case study is a perennial issue in the methodology of the social sciences. The case study is one of the most important research designs in many social scientific fields, but no shared understanding exists of the epistemic import of case studies. This article suggests that the idea of mechanism-based theorizing provides a fruit...
Article
Full-text available
We compare Guala's unified theory of institutions with that of Searle and Greif. We show that unification can be many things and it may be associated with diverse explanatory goals. We also highlight some of the important shortcomings of Guala's account: it does not capture all social institutions, its ability to bridge social ontology and game the...
Preprint
This paper reviews controversies about methodological individualism and aims to sort out various debates ,motivations, and claims involved in the debate. It suggests some reasons why it is do difficult to be precise about MI and describes the dialectics of the debate. The long and unresolved history of MI is mostly explained by the ambiguity of mor...
Preprint
In this paper, I will discuss the idea of contrastive explanandum. I will restrict my discussion to singular causal explanation, but the basic ideas and the arguments have a broader application. They are relevant also to other kinds of explanations. In the first section I will first present the intuitive idea of contrastive questions, and then elab...
Preprint
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 ent...
Preprint
This paper discusses the epistemic import of highly abstract and simplified theoretical models using Thomas Schelling’s checkerboard model as an example. We argue that the epistemic contribution of theoretical models can be better understood in the context of a cluster of models relevant to the explanatory task at hand. The central claim of the pap...
Preprint
Philosophers of science have a long tradition of making a connection between explanation and understanding, but only lately have they started to give the latter notion a substantial role in their theories. In this chapter I will employ a well-known scientific research heuristic of studying how something works by focusing on circumstances in which i...
Preprint
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, detail, factual accuracy and degree of integration. These dimensions are partially i...
Preprint
In this paper we argue that, despite its influence, critical realism is not the most promising version of scientific realism for economics. The main problem with critical realism is its hermetic insulation from the mainstream of the philosophy of science. We argue that this intellectual isolation is unfortunate, as it has meant that critical realis...
Preprint
The article discusses agent-based simulation as a tool of sociological understanding. Based on an inferential account of understanding, it argues that computer simulations increase our explanatory understanding both by expanding our ability to make what-if inferences about social processes and by making these inferences more reliable. However, our...
Preprint
This article compares causal and constitutive explanation. While scientific inquiry usually addresses both causal and constitutive questions, making the distinction is crucial for a detailed understanding of scientific questions and their interrelations. These explanations have different kinds of explananda and they track different sorts of depende...
Preprint
This paper argues that there are some serious problems with the Wesley Salmon’s arguments against the so-called third dogma of empiricism. In the first place, his formulation of the dogma is ambiguous: it can be read in at least four different ways. Secondly, his arguments against the dogma are only able to refute the strongest version of it. The s...
Preprint
This paper provides an inferentialist account of modelKbased understanding by combining a counterfactual account of explanation and an inferentialist account of representation with a view of modeling as extended cognition. This account makes it understandable how the manipulation of surrogate systems like models can provide genuinely new empirical...
Preprint
This paper provides a conceptual analysis of the notion of interests as it is used in the social studies of science. After describing the theoretical background behind the Strong Program’s adoption of the concept of interest, the paper outlines a reconstruction of the everyday notion of interest and argues that the same notion is used also by the s...
Article
The basic idea behind mechanism-based explanation is simple at its core, it implies that proper explanations should detail the ‘cogs and wheels’ of the causal process through which the outcome to be explained was brought about. This idea has become increasingly popular in both the social sciences and philosophy of science over the last two decades....
Article
Full-text available
Recently, the use of the notion of addiction has expanded to new behaviors. This has raised also critical discussion about the added value of the concept that covers so many different substances and activities. Many of the debates surrounding the notion of addiction stem from different views concerning what kind of a thing addiction fundamentally i...
Chapter
The core idea of analytical sociology is the importance of mechanism-based understanding of social processes. Sociological theories should provide clear and precise accounts of the social mechanisms by which the intentional activities of social agents bring about social phenomena. Theories about social mechanisms can be characterized as theories of...
Article
Full-text available
This comment discusses Kaidesoja (2013) and raises the issue whether his analysis justifies stronger conclusions than he presents in the book. My comments focus on four issues. First, I argue that his naturalistic reconstruction of critical realist transcendental arguments shows that transcendental arguments should be treated as a rare curiosity ra...
Article
Full-text available
The article discusses agent-based simulation as a tool of sociological understanding. Based on an inferential account of understanding, it argues that computer simulations increase our explanatory understanding both by expanding our ability to make what-if inferences about social processes and by making these inferences more reliable. However, our...
Chapter
Full-text available
This paper proposes a new approach to the micro-macro problem in the social sciences. It argues that the common strategy of borrowing arguments from the philosophy of mind debates is not fruitful and the micro-macro relations should not be conceptualized in terms of ‘levels’. This way of thinking is systematically misleading and fails to provide me...
Article
Full-text available
This paper discusses the epistemic import of highly abstract and simplified theoretical models using Thomas Schelling's checkerboard model as an example. We argue that the epistemic contribution of theoretical models can be better understood in the context of a cluster of models relevant to the explanatory task at hand. The central claim of the pap...
Article
Full-text available
This article compares causal and constitutive explanation. While scientific inquiry usually addresses both causal and constitutive questions, making the distinction is crucial for a detailed understanding of scientific questions and their interrelations. These explanations have different kinds of explananda and they track different sorts of depende...
Article
Full-text available
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...
Chapter
Full-text available
Constitutive mechanistic explanations explain a property of a whole with the properties of its parts and their organization. Carl Craver's mutual manipulability criterion for constitutive relevance only captures the explanatory relevance of causal properties of parts and leaves the organization side of mechanistic explanation unaccounted for. We us...
Chapter
Full-text available
Article
This paper discusses the epistemic import of highly abstract and simplified theoretical models using Thomas Schelling's checkerboard model as an example. We argue that the epistemic contribution of theoretical models can be better understood in the context of a cluster of models relevant to the explanatory task at hand. The central claim of the pap...
Chapter
Full-text available
In this chapter I will discuss mechanistic explanation in the social sciences from the pointof view of the philosophical theory of explanation. My aim is to show that the current accounts of mechanistic explanation do not serve the agenda of analytical social science as well as they should. I will not challenge the idea that causal explanations in...
Article
Full-text available
Many of the arguments for neuroeconomics rely on mistaken assumptions about criteria of explanatory relevance across disciplinary boundaries and fail to distinguish between evidential and explanatory relevance. Building on recent philosophical work on mechanistic research programmes and the contrastive counterfactual theory of explanation, we argue...
Conference Paper
Full-text available
The wide applicability of neural networks poses an interesting challenge for the philosophy of science. This paper argues that when used for explanatory purposes, the interpretation of the neural network's computational template is crucial. The dynamics of debate about the interpretation of a model are illustrated with examples from the recent hist...
Book
The nature of scientific explanation has been an important topic in philosophy of science for many years. This book highlights some of the conceptual problems that still need to be solved and points out a number of fresh philosophical ideas to explore. Anyone interested in causal and probabilistic explanation, explanation-seeking questions and cont...
Chapter
Full-text available
In this paper, I will discuss the idea of contrastive explanandum. I will restrict my discussion to singular causal explanation, but the basic ideas and the arguments have a broader application. They are relevant also to other kinds of explanations. In the first section I will first present the intuitive idea of contrastive questions, and then elab...
Article
Full-text available
The abstract for this document is available on CSA Illumina.To view the Abstract, click the Abstract button above the document title.
Article
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This paper is an attempt to further our understanding of mechanisms conceived of as ontologically separable from laws. What opportunities are there for a mechanistic perspective to be independent of, or even more fundamental than, a law perspective? Advocates of the mechanistic view often play with the possibility of internal and external reliabili...
Article
Full-text available
This paper provides a conceptual analysis of the notion of interests as it is used in the social studies of science. After describing the theoretical background behind the Strong Program's adoption of the concept of interest, the paper outlines a reconstruction of the everyday notion of interest and argues that this same notion is used also by the...
Article
Full-text available
This paper discusses Stephen Turner’s recent critique of theories of social practices. It shows that his arguments are valid against common explanatory uses of these concepts, but not against practices in general. There are plenty of legitimate non-explanatory uses for practice concepts. The paper also suggests that Turner’s main arguments derive f...
Chapter
Raimo Tuomela is known to be a philosopher who enjoys criticism more than applause. This fact in our minds we have decided to write a critical paper to further stimulate philosophical discussion in the field of social ontology. We want to examine the role of we-attitudes in the existing philosophical analyses of social reality. It is our view that...
Book
Realism in Action is a selection of essays written by leading representatives in the fields of action theory and philosophy of mind, philosophy of the social sciences and especially the nature of social action, and of epistemology and philosophy of science. Practical reason, reasons and causes in action theory, intending and trying, and folk-psycho...
Chapter
Full-text available
In this paper we want to examine the role of we-attitudes in the existing philosophical analyses of social reality. It is our view that we-attitudes have gained too central a place in the leading philosophical accounts of social ontology. We acknowledge the importance of we-attitudes, but think their role in the analysis of social institutions has...
Article
Full-text available
Dispositions: A DebateArmstrongD. M., MartinC. B., and PlaceU. T.CraneTim, editor London: Routledge, 1996, viii + 197 pp. - Volume 38 Issue 1 - Petri Ylikoski

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Projects (3)
Project
Understand approaches to complex causation in social-ecological systems.
Project
DataLit is an interdisciplinary collaboration between social science, law, and computer science that develops understandable and trustworthy practices for utilizing Finnish health, social, and welfare data. The collaborating partners include many national public data authorities and organisations.