Stathis Psillos

Stathis Psillos
National and Kapodistrian University of Athens | uoa · Faculty of Philosophy and History of Science

About

146
Publications
5,843
Reads
How we measure 'reads'
A 'read' is counted each time someone views a publication summary (such as the title, abstract, and list of authors), clicks on a figure, or views or downloads the full-text. Learn more
3,109
Citations

Publications

Publications (146)
Article
Current debates over inductive risk and the role(s) of values in science have largely revolved around the question of the moral responsibilities of scientists: Do scientists have the duty to consider the potential non-epistemic consequences of theories they advocate and, if yes, what (or whose) values should be taken into account in decision-making...
Article
In this paper we examine the status of relations in two prominent views in metaphysics of science, i.e. dispositionalism and structuralism, and argue that the current consensus about the metaphysics of relations, according to which relations are to be viewed as internal and as constituting no addition of being over and above their relata, needs to...
Chapter
The COVID-19 pandemic has been accompanied by an overabundance of information about the new coronavirus and the disease it causes, which is often false or misleading. Science communication can play a key role in the fight against mis- and disinformation. However, the attempt to separate facts from fiction and control the flow of information is hind...
Article
How do non-Humean laws govern regularities in nature? According to the Inference Problem, non-Humean accounts of governing face a central problem: it is not clear how such laws do perform their governing function. Recently, Jonathan Schaffer has argued that the introduction of a law-to-regularity axiom is sufficient to solve the Inference Problem....
Chapter
This chapter looks into the transition from the Cartesian natural philosophy to the Newtonian one, and then to the Einsteinian science, making the following key point: though the shift from Descartes’s theory to Newton’s amounted to a wholesale rejection of Descartes’s theory, in the second shift, a great deal was retained; Newton’s theory of unive...
Article
Full-text available
In this paper, the key tenets of Anjan Chakravartty's book Scientific Ontology are critically discussed. After a brief presentation of the project of stance-based ontology (Section 2), I move on to criticize Chakravartty's account of metaphysical inference (Sections 2 and 3). Then, in Section 4, I take issue with Chakravartty's view that fundamenta...
Article
Full-text available
Rani Lill Anjum and Stephen Mumford have recently defended a new kind of modality, which they call ‘dispositional modality’. The key reason to adopt dispositional modality, according to them, is that causes never necessitate their effects. Anjum and Mumford’s chief argument against causal necessitation makes use of what they call the ‘antecedent-st...
Article
Non-Humean accounts of the metaphysics of nature posit either laws or powers in order to account for natural necessity and world-order. We argue that such monistic views face fundamental problems. On the one hand, neo-Aristotelians cannot give unproblematic power-based accounts of the functional laws among quantities offered by physical theories, a...
Chapter
Stathis Psillos explores a fundamental ontological puzzle pertaining to powers, in the editors’ opinion perhaps the most fundamental one, namely the internal coherence of their dual nature. On the one hand, powers are intrinsic properties of their objects. They are really and truly predicated of their subjects because they are, strictly speaking, c...
Chapter
In the present paper, I argue that at least some models are abstract entities and hence that at least some of the content of scientific theories is abstract. I further argue that abstraction, which is ubiquitous in science, is the vehicle for the discovery and representation of abstract objects. Finally, I argue against taking models to be fictions...
Chapter
This chapter analyses and criticises the idea that powers are representable as vectors. Mumford and Anjum have recently developed a vector model of powers as part of their account of dispositional causation. The purpose of this model is to represent powers as causes as well as to explain various features of their account of causation, for instance...
Chapter
Full-text available
For many old and new mechanists, Mechanism is both a metaphysical position and a thesis about scientific methodology. In this paper we discuss the relation between the metaphysics of mechanisms and the role of mechanical explanation in the practice of science, by presenting and comparing the key tenets of Old and New Mechanism. First, by focusing o...
Article
The main thesis of this paper is the following: Already in his Critique of Political Economy in 1859 and more forcefully in Capital in 1867, Marx relies on two distinct kinds of abstraction in order to introduce and explain Value. The first kind of abstraction – which I call abstraction1 or ‘Aristotelian abstraction’ – takes it that two (or more) a...
Article
Full-text available
There seems to be widespread agreement that there are two modal values: necessity and possibility. X is necessary if it is not possible that not-X; and Y is possible if it is not necessary that not-Y. In their path-breaking book, Rani Lill Anjum and Stephen Mumford defend the radical idea that there is a third modal value, weaker than necessity and...
Article
Full-text available
In this paper we defend the view that mechanisms are underpinned by networks of difference-making relations. First, we distinguish and criticise two different kinds of arguments in favour of an activity-based understanding of mechanism: Glennan's metaphysics first approach and Illari and Williamson's science-first approach. Second, we present an al...
Article
Thomas Hobbes based his natural philosophy on definitions and general principles of matter in motion, which he refrained from calling “laws of nature.” Across the channel, René Descartes had presented his own account of matter in motion in such a way that laws of nature play a central causal-explanatory role. Despite some notable differences in the...
Article
Full-text available
In this paper, we offer a minimal characterization of the concept of mechanism in biomedicine, according to which a mechanism is a theoretically described causal pathway. We argue that this conception can be drawn from scientific practice, as illustrated by how a central biological and biomedical mechanism, the mechanism of apoptosis, was first ide...
Cover Page
Full-text available
عن المركز القومي للترجمة بالقاهرة، صدرت ترجمتي لمعجم «فلسفة العلم من الألف إلى الياء». الكتاب من تأليف فيلسوف العلم اليوناني «ستاتس بسيلوس»، وقد نُشرت نسخته الانجليزية الأصلية بمطبعة جامعة أدنبره بانجلترا سنة 2007. وتقع الترجمة العربية في 567 صفحة، شاملة عددًا ضخمًا من المصطلحات التي أوردها المؤلف وشروح وتعليقات المترجم. ولعل أبرز مميزات هذا المعجم...
Chapter
The aim of this chapter is to revisit the major arguments of the seventeenth-century debate concerning laws and powers in service of two main points. First, though the dominant conception of nature was such that there was no room for power in bodies, the very idea that laws govern the behaviour of (bits of) matter in motion brought with it the foll...
Article
Full-text available
This paper advances the thesis of methodological mechanism, the claim that to be committed to mechanism is to adopt a certain methodological postulate, i.e. to look for causal pathways for the phenomena of interest. We argue that methodological mechanism incorporates a minimal account of understanding mechanisms, according to which a mechanism just...
Article
In his latest book, Hoyningen-Huene develops a theory of the ‘nature of science’ which distinguishes science from ‘other forms of knowledge’ on the basis that science has a higher degree of systematicity than them. He analyses systematicity along nine dimensions. I argue that Hoyningen-Huene fails to offer a cogent account of the nature of science...
Article
Full-text available
Some philosophers who believe that there are necessary connections in nature take it that an advantage of their commitment is that the problem of induction is solved. This paper aims to offer a comprehensive refutation of the arguments necessitarians use to show that if natural necessities are posited, then there is no problem of induction. In sect...
Article
Full-text available
This Introduction has two foci: the first is a discussion of the motivation for and the aims of the 2014 conference on New Thinking about Scientific Realism in Cape Town South Africa, and the second is a brief contextualization of the contributed articles in this special issue of Synthese in the framework of the conference. Each focus is discussed...
Article
Full-text available
Duhem’s philosophy of science is difficult to classify according to more contemporary categories like instrumentalism and realism. On the one hand, he presents an account of scientific methodology which renders theories as mere instruments. On the other hand, he acknowledges that theories with particular theoretical virtues (e.g., unity, simplicity...
Chapter
In this paper, I analyse the metaphysical component of scientific realism. I develop and defend the view that the realist claim of mind-independence is captured by what I call ‘the possibility of divergence’, viz., the possibility of a gap between what there is in the world and what is issued (or licensed) as existing by a suitable (even ideal) set...
Chapter
Full-text available
In this chapter, we examine the relation between mechanisms and laws/counterfactuals by revisiting the main notions of mechanism found in the literature. We distinguish between two different conceptions of ‘mechanism’: mechanisms-of underlie or constitute a causal process; mechanisms-for are complex systems that function so as to produce a certain...
Article
Some philosophers argue that tying scientific understanding to explanation and truth generates a dilemma for a realist view of science: given the practice and the history of science, either we should give up the idea that understanding requires truth, or we should accept that we do not have scientific understanding. Given, we were told, that the la...
Article
The aim of this paper is to revisit the major arguments of the seventeenth century debate concerning laws and powers. Its primary points are two. First, though the dominant conception of nature was such that there was no room for power in bodies, the very idea that laws govern the behaviour of (bits of) matter in motion brought with it the followin...
Article
In his intervention to the ‘bankruptcy of science debate’, which raged in Paris in the turn of the twentieth century, Leo Tolstoy was one of the first to use the past record of science as a weapon against current science. It is not inductive. It does not conclude that all current scientific theories will be abandoned; nor that most of them will be...
Article
This chapter offers a narrative of the basic twists and turns of the realism debate after the realist turn. It starts with what preceded and initiated the turn, viz., instrumentalist construals of scientific theories. It then moves on to discuss the basic lines of development of the realist stance to science, focusing on one of its main challenges:...
Article
This article reviews the two major approaches to counterfactual conditionals: the metalinguistic or ‘support’ approach and the possible worlds approach. It identifies the major problems they face and explores the thought that the core idea behind counterfactual reasoning is to assert that there are not good inductive reasons to affirm simultaneousl...
Article
This essay offers a critical review of Steven French's The Structure of the World: Metaphysics & Representation (OUP, 2014). I challenge some of the reasons that French adduces against ‘thick’ objects as well as his conception of laws—which I think is problematic.
Article
This paper is meant to link the philosophical debate concerning the underdetermination of theories by evidence with a rather significant socio-political issue that has been taking place in Canada over the past few years: the so-called ‘death of evidence’ controversy. It places this debate within a broader philosophical framework by discussing the c...
Article
The relatively recent trend seems to be to move away from General Philosophy of Science (GPoS) and towards the philosophies of the individual sciences and to relocate whatever content GPoS is supposed to have to the philosophies of the sciences. I argue that scepticism or pessimism about the prospects of GPoS is unwarranted. I also argue that there...
Article
Drawing the complex terrain of the theories of induction and of the various ways to ground inductive knowledge in the middle ages is the aim of this paper. There have already been two excellent attempts to draw this terrain. The first is by Julius R. Weinberg (1965) and the second by E. P. Bos (1993). My attempt differs from theirs in two major res...
Conference Paper
The recent ‘death of evidence’ controversy has called attention to the role and value of evidence in science. Many criticisms of evidence have been raised. Critics argue that evidence underdetermines theory, can’t justify belief in the truth of scientific theories, and that it relies on various subjective values and considerations. Critics also arg...
Article
The goal of this paper is to sketch an empiricist metaphysics of laws of nature. The key idea is that there are regularities without regularity-enforcers. Differently put, there are natural laws without law-makers of a distinct metaphysical kind. This sketch will rely on the concept of a natural pattern and more significantly on the existence of a...
Article
How was Poincaré’s conventionalism connected to his relationism? How, in other words, is it the case that the basic principles of geometry and mechanics are, ultimately, freely chosen conventions and that, at the same time, science reveals to us the structure of the world? This lengthy study aims to address these questions by setting Poincaré’s phi...
Chapter
Bas van Fraassen has usefully contrasted two ways to view the relation between theory and measurement: from above and from within. Roughly put, “from above” is the perspective in which we view measurements from the point of view of the finished theory aiming to examine how the measurement is related to the theory. “From within” is the perspective i...
Article
Chakravartty claims that science does not imply any specific metaphysical theory of the world. In this sense, science is consistent with both neo-Aristotelianism and neo-Humeanism. But, along with many others, he thinks that a neo-Aristotelian outlook best suits science. In other words, neo-Aristotelianism is supposed to win on the basis of an infe...
Chapter
Among the many issues that relate to the role of Reason in science, I will focus my attention on two. The first concerns the problem of the justification of scientific method - and of induction in particular, which is the most basic and indispensable ampliative method of science. The second is related to the problem of theory-change in science: How...
Article
The very idea of a general philosophy of science relies on the assumption that there is this thing called science—as opposed to the various individual sciences. In this programmatic piece I make a case for the claim that general philosophy of science is the philosophy of science in general or science as such. Part of my narrative makes use of histo...
Article
Introduction. An adequate theory of reference of theoretical terms should satisfy two important conditions. The burden of reference of theoretical terms rests with theory in the sense that what they refer to is determined (at least to a large extent) by the theory in which they feature prominently. Theoretical terms are transtheoretical in the sens...
Chapter
In an attempt to pursue further my (hopefully constructive) criticism of Ontic Structuralism I want to examine in some detail a key recent idea that seems to shape the very kernel of this view, viz., that structures are modal. In Section 9.2, I argue that OS has to work with a notion of structure that is meant to play two roles at once: it should b...
Article
Peirce stated that the three basic, irreducible, and indispensable forms of reasoning include deduction, induction, and abduction. Abduction consists of studying facts and devising a theory to explain them. It is essentially a process of forming an explanatory hypothesis. Abduction is the only kind of reasoning by means of which new ideas can be in...
Article
This paper aims to cast light on the reasons that explain the shift of opinion—from scepticism to realism—concerning the reality of atoms and molecules in the beginning of the twentieth century, in light of Jean Perrin’s theoretical and experimental work on the Brownian movement. The story told has some rather interesting repercussions for the rati...
Article
The aim of this paper is to articulate, discuss in detail and criticise Reichenbach’s sophisticated and complex argument for scientific realism. Reichenbach’s argument has two parts. The first part aims to show how there can be reasonable belief in unobservable entities, though the truth of claims about them is not given directly in experience. The...
Article
A natural way to think of models is as abstract entities. If theories employ models to represent the world, theories traffic in abstract entities much more widely than is often assumed. This kind of thought seems to create a problem for a scientific realist approach to theories. Scientific realists claim theories should be understood literally. Do...
Article
Full-text available
There has been an empiricist tradition in the core of Logical Positivism/Empiricism, starting with Moritz Schlick and ending in Herbert Feigl (via Hans Reichenbach), according to which the world of empiricism need not be a barren place devoid of all the explanatory entities posited by scientific theories. The aim of this paper is to articulate this...
Article
This chapter disentangles two ideas of mechanism and point to the key problems they face. Section 36.2 offers an outline of the mechanical conception of mechanism, as this was introduced in the seventeenth century and developed later on. Section 36.3 presents Poincaré's critique of mechanical mechanism in relation with the principle of conservation...
Chapter
Peter Achinstein has offered one of the most systematic expositions and reconstructions of Perrin's argument for the reality of atoms, aiming (a) to show how his own theory of evidence best accounts for the significance of Perrin's results; and (b) how Perrin has offered a local and experimental argument for scientific realism. After some detailed...
Chapter
In this paper, I review the scope and limits of the no miracles argument. I defend and, where necessary, revise my account of it as a way to justify Inference to the Best Explanation (IBE).
Article
In this paper, I discuss the prospects of nominalistic scientific realism (NSR) and show that it fails on many counts. In section 2, I discuss what is required for NSR to get off the ground. In section 3, I question the idea that theories have well-defined nominalistic content and the idea that causal activity is a necessary condition for commitmen...
Chapter
These instructions are intended to provide guidance to authors of Imagine you live in 1823 and you are about to design an advanced course on the theory of heat. About fifty years ago, Lavoisier and Laplace had posited caloric as a material substance –an indestructible fluid of fine particles– which was taken to be the cause of heat and in particula...
Conference Paper
Most of the philosophical discussion about the metaphysics of causation has been dominated by what I call the 'straightjacket': the view that there is a single, unified and all-encompassing metaphysical story to be told as to what causation is. It has been presumed that the aim of philosophical inquiry is to tell this story. More specifically, it h...
Chapter
This article articulates Regularity View of Causation (RVC) with an eye to two things: first, its conceptual development; second, its basic commitments and implications for what causation is. The article has chosen to present RVC in a way that respects its historical origins and unravels the steps of its articulation in the face of objections and c...
Book
In this sequel to the highly acclaimed Scientific Realism: How Science Tracks Truth , Psillos discusses recent developments in scientific realism and explores realist theses and commitments. He examines the structuralist turn in the philosophy of science and offers a framework within which inference to the best explanation can be defended.
Chapter
The title of this chapter alludes to Musgrave’s piece ‘The Ultimate Argument for Realism’, though the expression is van Fraassen’s (1980, 39), and the argument is Putnam’s (1975, 73): realism ‘is the only philosophy of science that does not make the success of science a miracle’. Hence, the code name ‘no-miracles’ argument (henceforth, NMA). The NM...
Chapter
Cartwright has been both an empiricist and a realist. Where many philosophers thought that these two positions are incompatible (or, at any rate, very strange bed-fellows), right from her first book, the much-discussed and controversial How the Laws of Physics Lie, Cartwright tried to make a case for the following view: if empiricism allows a certa...
Chapter
Azzouni (2004) invites us to consider the way we ought to form beliefs about what we take to be real. Beliefs are the products of epistemic processes (e.g., observation or inference) but the processes Azzouni recommends should meet his ‘tracking requirement’: they should be ‘sensitive to the objects about which we claim to be establishing (the trut...
Chapter
Structural Realism (SR) is meant to be a substantive philosophical position concerning what there is in the world and what can be known of it. It is realist because it asserts the existence of a mind-independent world, and it is structural because what is knowable of the world is said to be its structure only. As a slogan, the thesis is that knowle...
Chapter
Once upon a time there was a feeling in the philosophy of science community that the scientific realism debate had run out of steam. Arthur Fine went as far as to declare that ‘realism is well and truly dead’ (1986a, 112) and to compose the obituary of the debate, aka the Natural Ontological Attitude. Fortunately, the allegations of premature death...
Chapter
In this chapter I will do two things. First, I shall formulate what I think is the basic problem of any attempt to characterise the abstract structure of scientific method, namely, that it has to satisfy two conflicting desiderata: it should be ampliative (content-increasing) and it should confer epistemic warrant on its outcomes (cf. Gower 1998; P...
Chapter
Ramsey’s posthumously published Theories has become one of the classics of the twentieth century philosophy of science. The paper was written in 1929 and was first published in 1931, in a collection of Ramsey’s papers edited by Richard Braithwaite. Theories was mostly ignored until the 1950s, though Ramsey’s reputation was growing fast, especially...
Chapter
Structuralism in the philosophy of science comes in many varieties. It ranges from a methodological thesis (concerning the nature of scientific theories and claiming that they are best understood as families of models) to an ontic position (concerning what there is and claiming that structure is all there is). In between, there is an epistemic view...
Chapter
Stanford (2006) has advanced a sophisticated neo-instrumentalist alternative to scientific realism. In fact, he has gone as far as to suggest that it may be a mistake to try to identify ‘a crucial difference’ between instrumentalism and realism when it comes to the epistemic attitudes they recommend towards theories or theoretical assertions. There...
Chapter
There have been two ways to conceive of what scientific realism is about. The first is to see it as a view about scientific theories; the second is to see it as a view about the world. Some philosophers, most typically from Australia, think that the second way is the correct way. Scientific realism, they argue, is a metaphysical thesis: it asserts...
Chapter
Lately, there has been a lot of discussion about the place of IBE in Bayesian reasoning. Niiniluoto (2004, 68) argues that ‘Bayesianism provides a framework for studying abduction and induction as forms of ampliative reasoning’. There is a tension, however, at the outset. Bayesian reasoning does not have rules of acceptance. On a strict Bayesian ap...
Article
The chapter discusses the past and contemporary perspectives on explanation. There is no single and definite meaning attached to the word “explanation.” There is no fully adequate model of explanation that covers everything that is intuitively being thought of. The core platitudes that the concept of explanation must satisfy are not clear. The thoug...
Article
The thought that there is a way to reconcile empiricism with a realist stance towards scientific theories, avoiding instrumentalism and without fearing that this will lead straight to metaphysics, seems very promising. This paper aims to articulate this thought. It consists of two parts. The first (sections 2 and 3) will articulate how empiricism c...
Article
In this paper I articulate RVC with an eye to two things: first, its conceptual development; second, its basic commitments and implications for what causation is. I have chosen to present RVC in a way that respects its historical origins and unravels the steps of its articulation in the face of objections and criticism. It is important for the expl...
Chapter
Causal explanation proceeds by citing the causes of the explanandum. Any model of causal explanation requires a specification of the relation between cause and effect in virtue of which citing the cause explains the effect. In particular, it requires a specification of what it is for the explanandum to be causally dependent on the explanans and wha...
Article
This paper takes issue with Ontic Structural Realism (OSR). It is structured around the three elements of the title. Section 2 highlights a substantive non-structural assumption that needs to be in place before we can talk about the structure. Then, by drawing on some relevant issues concerning mathematical structuralism, it claims that (a) structu...
Chapter
In the present paper I want to do two things. First, I want to discuss Ramsey’s own views of Ramsey-sentences. This, it seems to me, is an important issue not just (or mainly) because of its historical interest. It has a deep philosophical significance. Addressing it will enable us to see what Ramsey’s lasting contribution in the philosophy of scie...
Article
In the present paper, I offer a conceptual argument against the view that all properties are pure powers. I claim that thinking of all properties as pure powers leads to a regress. The regress, I argue, can be solved only if non-powers are admitted. The kernel of my thesis is that any attempt to answer the title question in an informative way will...
Article
The tendency to take scientific realism to be a richer metaphysical view than it ought to be stems from the fact that there are two ways in which we can conceive of reality. The first is to conceive of reality as comprising all facts and the other is to conceive of it as comprising all and only fundamental facts. I argue that scientific realism sho...
Article
The causality debate has centered on two issues, the metaphysical, and the epistemic. The metaphysical issue concerns the nature of the connection between cause and effect: how and in virtue of what does the cause bring about the effect? The epistemic issue concerns the possibility of causal knowledge: how, if at all, can causal knowledge be obtain...

Network

Cited By