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  • 1.
    Hedström, Peter
    et al.
    Institute for Futures Studies, Stockholm, Sweden.
    Ylikoski, Petri
    University of Helsinki, Helsinki, Finland.
    Analytical sociology2015In: International encyclopedia of social and behavioral sciences / [ed] James D. Wright, Oxford: Routledge, 2015, 2, p. 668-673Chapter in book (Other academic)
    Abstract [en]

    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 middle range as they provide clear, precise, and simple explanations for specified aspects of range of different phenomena, without pretense of being able to explain all social phenomena. Intentional action plays an important role in social mechanisms, but the analytical sociology perspective suggests that our account of human agency should be based on findings and theories of psychological and cognitive sciences rather than on some preconceived ideas about human motivation or cognitive processing. Much of the development of mechanism-based knowledge consists of developing how-possibly explanation schemes. Agent-based computer simulations can be very useful for this kind of endeavor.

  • 2.
    Hedström, Peter
    et al.
    Institute for Future Studies, Sweden.
    Ylikoski, Petri
    Department of Social Research, University of Helsinki, Finland.
    Analytical sociology and rational choice theory2014In: Analytical Sociology: Actions and Networks / [ed] G. Manzo, John Wiley & Sons, 2014Chapter in book (Refereed)
    Abstract [en]

    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 rational‐choice theory (RCT), especially in the context of sociology. Then, the basic ideas of analytical sociology are presented. The chapter concludes with some more general reflections about the nature of analytical sociology and the future of rational‐choice sociology, and an itemized summary of the most crucial differences between analytical sociology and rational‐choice theory. There are good reasons to reconsider meta‐theory that motivates sociological RCT (SRCT), and this is precisely what analytical sociology attempts to do.

  • 3.
    Hedström, Peter
    et al.
    Linköping University, Department of Management and Engineering, The Institute for Analytical Sociology, IAS. Linköping University, Faculty of Arts and Sciences.
    Ylikoski, Petri
    Linköping University, Department of Management and Engineering, The Institute for Analytical Sociology, IAS. Linköping University, Faculty of Arts and Sciences.
    Analytical sociology and social mechanisms2013In: Encyclopedia of Philosophy and the Social Sciences / [ed] Byron Kaldis, Sage Publications, 2013, p. 27-30Chapter in book (Refereed)
  • 4.
    Hedström, Peter
    et al.
    Nuffield College, University of Oxford, Oxford, United Kingdom.
    Ylikoski, Petri
    Department of History and Philosophy, University of Tampere, Finland.
    Causal Mechanisms in the Social Sciences2010In: Annual Review of Sociology, ISSN 0360-0572, E-ISSN 1545-2115, Vol. 36, p. 49-67Article in journal (Refereed)
    Abstract [en]

    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-based explanation from the point of view of philosophy of science and relates it to causation and to the covering-law account of explanation. The second part focuses on how the idea of mechanisms has been used in the social sciences. The final part discusses recent developments in analytical sociology, covering the nature of sociological explananda, the role of theory of action in mechanism-based explanations, Merton's idea of middle-range theory, and the role of agent-based simulations in the development of mechanism-based explanations.

  • 5.
    Kuorikoski, Jaakko
    et al.
    Department of Political and Economic Studies, University of Helsinki, Helsinki, Finland.
    Ylikoski, Petri
    Department of Social Research, University of Helsinki, Helsinki, Finland.
    External Representations and Scientific Understanding2015In: Synthese, ISSN 0039-7857, E-ISSN 1573-0964, Vol. 192, no 12, p. 3817-3837Article in journal (Refereed)
    Abstract [en]

    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 understanding about the world. Similarly, the account pro- vides an answer to the question how models, that always incorporate assumptions that are literally untrue of the model target, can still provide factive explanations. Finally, the paper shows how the contrastive counterfactual theory of explanation can provide tools for assessing the explanatory power of models. 

  • 6.
    Ylikoski, Petri
    University of Helsinki, Helsinki, Finland.
    Agent-Based Simulation and Sociological Understanding2014In: Perspectives on Science, ISSN 1063-6145, E-ISSN 1530-9274, Vol. 22, p. 318-335Article in journal (Refereed)
    Abstract [en]

    The article discusses agent-based simulation as a tool of sociological understanding. Based on aninferential account of understanding, it argues that computer simulations increase ourexplanatory understanding both by expanding our ability to make what-if inferences about socialprocesses and by making these inferences more reliable. However, our ability to understandsimulations limits our ability to understand real world phenomena through them. ThomasSchelling’s checkerboard model of ethnic segregation is used to demonstrate the important roleplayed by abstract how-possibly models in the process of building a mechanistic understandingof social phenomena.

  • 7.
    Ylikoski, Petri
    Linköping University, Department of Social and Welfare Studies, The Institute for Analytical Sociology, IAS. Linköping University, Faculty of Arts and Sciences.
    Are We All Scientific Experts Now?2016In: Science & Education, ISSN 0926-7220, E-ISSN 1573-1901, Vol. 25, no 3-4, p. 461-464Article, book review (Other academic)
    Abstract [en]

    n/a

  • 8.
    Ylikoski, Petri
    Linköping University, Department of Management and Engineering, The Institute for Analytical Sociology, IAS. Linköping University, Faculty of Arts and Sciences.
    Causal and constitutive explanation compared2013In: Erkenntnis, ISSN 0165-0106, E-ISSN 1572-8420, Vol. 78, p. 277-297-Article in journal (Refereed)
    Abstract [en]

    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 dependencies. Constitutive explanations do not address events or behaviors, but causal capacities. While there are some interesting relations between building and causal manipulation, causation and constitution are not to be confused. Constitution is a synchronous and asymmetric relation between relata that cannot be conceived as independent existences. However, despite their metaphysical differences, the same key ideas about explanation largely apply to both. Causal and constitutive explanations face similar challenges (such as the problems of relevance and explanatory regress) and both are in the business of mapping networks of counterfactual dependence—i.e. mechanisms—although the relevant counterfactuals are of a different sort. In the final section the issue of developmental explanation is discussed. It is argued that developmental explanations deserve their own place in taxonomy of explanations, although ultimately developmental dependencies can be analyzed as combinations of causal and constitutive dependencies. Hence, causal and constitutive explanation are distinct, but not always completely separate forms of explanation.

  • 9.
    Ylikoski, Petri
    Linköping University, Department of Social and Welfare Studies, The Institute for Analytical Sociology, IAS. Linköping University, Faculty of Arts and Sciences.
    Comment on Naturalizing Critical Realist Social Ontology2015In: Journal of Social Ontology, ISSN 2196-9663, Vol. 1, no 2, p. 333-340Article in journal (Other academic)
    Abstract [en]

    This comment discusses Kaidesoja (2013) and raises the issue whether his analysis justifies stronger conclusions than he presents in the book. My com- ments 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 rather than a general argumentative strategy. Second, I suggest that Kaidesoja’s analysis does not really justify his optimism about the usefulness of causal powers ontology in the social sciences. Third, I raise some doubts about the heuristic value of Mario Bunge’s social ontology that Kaidesoja presents as a replacement for critical realist ontology. Finally, I propose an alternative way to analyze failures of aggregativity that might better serve Kaidesoja’s purposes than the Wimsattian scheme he employs in the book. 

  • 10.
    Ylikoski, Petri
    Linköping University, Department of Social and Welfare Studies, The Institute for Analytical Sociology, IAS. Linköping University, Faculty of Arts and Sciences.
    Hyviä ja huonoja perusteita kokeelliselle sosiologialle2015In: Sosiologia, ISSN 0038-1640, Vol. 52, no 3, p. 204-221Article in journal (Refereed)
    Abstract [fi]

    Kokeellisen tutkimuksen suosio on nopeasti kasvamassa eri yhteiskuntatieteissä. Merkittävä osa tästä tutkimuksesta on sosiologisesti kiinnostavaa, ja siksi kaikkien sosiologien on hyvä tutustua sekä kokeellisen tutkimuksen vahvuuksiin että sen heikkouksiin. Tämä kirjoitus aloittaa erittelemällä kokeellisen tutkimuksen nousun taustatekijöitä ja jatkaa sitten esittelemällä kokeellisen tutkimuksen moninaisuutta: erilaiset kokeelliset asetelmat eroavat toisistaan suuresti ja samaakin koeasetelmaa on mahdollista käyttää useaan erilaiseen tutkimukselliseen tarkoitukseen. Tästä moninaisuudesta seuraa, että vaikka kokeellisen tutkimusasetelman erityinen ansio on sen suosiollisuus kausaalisille päätelmille, tulee kokeellinen tutkimus ymmärtää laajemmin kuin pelkkänä kausaalisten vaikutus- väitteiden testaamisena. Yleisesti ottaen kokeellisen tutkimuksen lisääntyminen on ehdottoman hyvä asia yhteiskuntatieteiden kannalta. Siihen ei kuitenkaan tule yhdistää kahta ongelmallista ajatusta. Ensimmäinen näistä on ajatus ehdottomasta ja tiukasta näyttöhierarkiasta, joka koskee eri tutkimus- tapojen soveltuvuutta luotettavien kausaalipäätelmien tekemiseen. Tämä ajatus on osoittautunut toimimattomaksi jo lääketieteellisten toimenpiteiden arvioinnin kohdalla, ja hankaluudet vain kas- vavat, jos sitä sovelletaan politiikkatoimenpiteiden arviointiin, puhumattakaan sen yleisemmästä soveltamisesta yhteiskuntatieteissä. Toinen ongelmallinen ajatus on toive, että kokeellisten mene- telmien myötä yhteiskuntatieteet voisivat viimein siirtyä nopeasti etenevän ja vakaasti kasautuvan tiedon tuottamiseen. Kokeellisesta menetelmästä ei ole tällaisen haavekuvan toteuttajaksi. Luonte- vinta onkin ajatella kokeellista tutkimusta yksinkertaisesti tervetulleena täydennyksenä sosiologian ja muiden yhteiskuntatieteiden menetelmävalikoimaan.

  • 11.
    Ylikoski, Petri
    Linköping University, Department of Management and Engineering, The Institute for Analytical Sociology, IAS. Linköping University, Faculty of Arts and Sciences.
    Mechanism-based theorizing and generalization from case studies2019In: Studies in history and philosophy of science, ISSN 0039-3681, E-ISSN 1879-2510Article in journal (Refereed)
    Abstract [en]

    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 fruitful basis for understanding how case studies contribute to a general understanding of social phenomena. This approach is illustrated with a reconstruction of Espeland and Sauder's case study of the effects of rankings on US legal education. On the basis of the reconstruction, it is argued that, at least with respect to sociology, the idea of mechanism-based theorizing captures many of the generalizable elements of case studies.

  • 12.
    Ylikoski, Petri
    Linköping University, Department of Management and Engineering, The Institute for Analytical Sociology, IAS. Linköping University, Faculty of Arts and Sciences.
    Methodological Individualism2017In: Routledge Companion to Philosophy of Social Science / [ed] Lee McIntyre, Alexander Rosenberg, New York: Routledge, 2017, p. 135-146Chapter in book (Refereed)
    Abstract [en]

    Ideas about social scientic explanation lie at the core of debates about methodological individualism (MI). The spirit of MI is captured in a denition by Jon Elster:

    [A] ll social phenomena-their structure and their change-are in principle explicable in ways that only involve individuals-their properties, their goals, their beliefs and their actions.

  • 13.
    Ylikoski, Petri
    Science and Technology Studies/Sociology, Department of Social Research, University of Helsinki, Helsinki, Finland.
    Rethinking Micro-Macro Relations2014In: Rethinking the Individualism-Holism Debate: Essays in the Philosophy of Social Science / [ed] Julie Zahle, Finn Collin, Springer Publishing Company, 2014, p. 117-135Chapter in book (Refereed)
    Abstract [en]

    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 methodologically useful guidance. As a replacement the paper suggests an approach that consider micro-macro relations in terms of scale. In this view there is no unique micro level in the social sciences, and the micro-macro contrast is always context-relative. When combined with the idea of mechanism-based explanation this idea provides an effective tool for thinking about explanation-related controversies in the philosophy of social sciences. For example, by clearly distinguishing causal and constitutive explanations at different scales, it is possible to resolve many conceptual puzzles related to macro causation. The scale-based approach also makes it possible to explore the diversity of macro social properties. To emphasize the importance of this diversity, the paper concludes by presenting a fourfold classification of these properties.

  • 14.
    Ylikoski, Petri
    Linköping University, Department of Social and Welfare Studies, The Institute for Analytical Sociology, IAS. Linköping University, Faculty of Arts and Sciences.
    Review of: The Limits of Social Science. Causal Explanation and Value Relevance. Martyn Hammersley.2015In: Acta Sociologica, ISSN 0001-6993, E-ISSN 1502-3869, Vol. 58, no 3, p. 283-284Article, book review (Other academic)
    Abstract [en]

    n/a

  • 15.
    Ylikoski, Petri
    University of Helsinki, Finland .
    Review of Process-Tracing Methods: Foundations and Guidelines, by Derek Beach and Rasmus Brun Pedersen2015In: Contemporary Sociology, ISSN 0094-3061, E-ISSN 1939-8638, Vol. 44, no 5, p. 634-635Article, book review (Other academic)
  • 16.
    Ylikoski, Petri
    University of Helsinki, Helsinki, Finland.
    Social mechanism2015In: International Encyclopedia of Social and Behavioral Sciences: Vol. 22 / [ed] James D. Wright, Oxford: Elsevier, 2015, 2, p. 415-420Chapter in book (Other academic)
    Abstract [en]

    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. At the core of the mechanistic approach is a criticism of widely held views about social scientific explanation, causation, and the nature of social scientific theories. However, it also has interesting methodological implications for the social sciences.

  • 17.
    Ylikoski, Petri
    Department of Social Research, University of Helsinki, Finland.
    The (hopefully) last stand of the covering-law theory: A reply to Opp2013In: Social Science Information, ISSN 0539-0184, E-ISSN 1461-7412, Vol. 52, no 3, p. 383-393Article in journal (Refereed)
    Abstract [en]

    In his paper Karl-Dieter Opp heroically sets out to defend both the adequacy and sociological 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 mechanism-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.

  • 18.
    Ylikoski, Petri
    Linköping University, Department of Management and Engineering, The Institute for Analytical Sociology, IAS. Linköping University, Faculty of Arts and Sciences. Department o f Social Research, University of Helsinki.
    Thinking with the Coleman boat2016Report (Other academic)
    Abstract [en]

    The aim of this article is to provide a rational reconstruction of the diagram as a tool for social scientific theorizing. I will show how Coleman uses the diagram and how it can be employed as a tool for theoretical thinking. I will also demonstrate how it can be used to clarify the nature of the micro-macro challenge in social explanation. The structure of the article is as following. Section 2 will describe the diagram and its elements. Section 3 will show various ways in which Coleman used the diagram in his work. Section 4 discusses more systematically issues related to the interpretation of the diagram, and Section 5 will provide a diagnosis of some recent interpretations of the diagram. Finally, Section 6 focuses on some important limitations of the diagram.

  • 19.
    Ylikoski, Petri
    et al.
    University of Helsinki, Helsinki, Finland.
    Aydinonat, Emrah
    Bahcesehir University, Besiktas, Istanbul, Turkey.
    Understanding with theoretical models2014In: Journal of economic methodology, ISSN 1350-178X, E-ISSN 1018-5070, Vol. 21, no 1, p. 19-36Article in journal (Refereed)
    Abstract [en]

    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 paper is that theoretical models make better sense in the context of a menu of possible explanations. In order to justify this claim, we introduce a distinction between causal scenarios and causal mechanism schemes. These conceptual tools help us to articulate the basis for modelers’ intuitive confidence that their models make an important epistemic contribution. By focusing on the role of the menu of possible explanations in the evaluation of explanatory hypotheses, it is possible to understand how a causal mechanism scheme can improve our explanatory understanding even in cases where it does not describe the actual cause of a particular phenomenon.

  • 20.
    Ylikoski, Petri
    et al.
    Linköping University, Department of Management and Engineering, The Institute for Analytical Sociology, IAS. Linköping University, Faculty of Arts and Sciences.
    Kuorikoski, Jaakko
    Department of Social Research, University of Helsinki, Finland.
    How Organization Explains2013In: EPSA11 Perspectives and Foundational Problems in Philosophy of Science / [ed] Vassilios Karakostas, Dennis Dieks, Springer, 2013, p. 69-80Chapter in book (Refereed)
    Abstract [en]

    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 use the contrastive counterfactual theory of explanation and an account of the dimensions of organization to build a typology of organizational dependence. We analyse organizational explanations in terms of such dependencies and emphasize the importance of modular organizational motifs. We apply this framework to two cases from social science and systems biology, both fields in which organization plays a crucial explanatory role: agent-based simulations of residential segregation and the recent work on network motifs in transcription regulation networks.

  • 21.
    Ylikoski, Petri
    et al.
    Linköping University, Department of Social and Welfare Studies, The Institute for Analytical Sociology, IAS. Linköping University, Faculty of Arts and Sciences.
    Kuorikoski, Jaakko
    University of Helsinki, Finland.
    Self-interest, norms, and explanation2016In: Normativity and naturalism in the social sciences / [ed] Mark Risjord, London: Routledge, 2016, p. 212-229Chapter in book (Refereed)
    Abstract [en]

    Rationality and self-interest are routinely attributed an explanatory priority as an inherently understandable basis - as an ideal of natural order - for all social scientific explanation. We argue that this is not consistent with a causal-mechanistic understanding of science and that using self-interest and rationality heuristically as a default baseline biases social scientific research. From a naturalist perspective, both rationality and self-interest are empirical objects of explanation. We discuss one such explanatory hypothesis, according to which consistent self-interested behavior is sustained by a social norm.

  • 22.
    Ylikoski, Petri
    et al.
    Linköping University, Department of Management and Engineering, The Institute for Analytical Sociology, IAS. Linköping University, Faculty of Arts and Sciences.
    Marchionni, Caterina
    University of Helsinki, Helsinki, Finland.
    Generative Explanation and Individualism in Agent-Based Simulation2013In: Philosophy of the social sciences, ISSN 0048-3931, E-ISSN 1552-7441, Vol. 43, no 3, p. 323-340Article in journal (Refereed)
    Abstract [en]

    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.

  • 23.
    Ylikoski, Petri
    et al.
    Linköping University, Department of Social and Welfare Studies, The Institute for Analytical Sociology, IAS. Linköping University, Faculty of Arts and Sciences.
    Pöyhönen, Samuli
    University of Helsinki.
    Addiction-as-a-kind hypothesis2015In: International Journal of Alcohol and Drug Research, ISSN 1925-7066, Vol. 4, no 1, p. 21-25Article in journal (Refereed)
    Abstract [en]

    The psychiatric category of addiction has recently been broadened to include new behaviors. This has prompted critical discussion about the value of a 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 is. In this essay, we put forward an account that conceptualizes different addictions as sharing a cluster of relevant properties (the syndrome) that is supported by a matrix of causal mechanisms. According to this “addiction-as-a-kind” hypothesis, several different kinds of substance and behavioral addictions can be thought of as instantiations of the same thing—addiction. We show how a clearly articulated account of addiction can facilitate empirical research and the theoretical integration of different perspectives on addiction. The causal matrix approach provides a promising alternative to existing accounts of the nature of psychiatric disorders, the traditional disease model, and its competitors. It is a positive addition to discussions about diagnostic criteria, and sheds light on how psychiatric classification may be integrated with research done in other scientific fields. We argue that it also provides a plausible approach to understanding comorbidity. 

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