Why Do Certain States of Affairs Call Out for Explanation? A Critique of Two Horwichian Accounts

Philosophia 47 (5):1405-1419 (2019)
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Abstract

Motivated by examples, many philosophers believe that there is a significant distinction between states of affairs that are striking and therefore call for explanation and states of affairs that are not striking. This idea underlies several influential debates in metaphysics, philosophy of mathematics, normative theory, philosophy of modality, and philosophy of science but is not fully elaborated or explored. This paper aims to address this lack of clear explanation first by clarifying the epistemological issue at hand. Then it introduces an initially attractive account for strikingness that is inspired by the work of Paul Horwich and adopted by a number of philosophers. The paper identifies two logically distinct accounts that have both been attributed to Horwich and then argues that, when properly interpreted, they can withstand former criticisms. The final two sections present a new set of considerations against both Horwichian accounts that avoid the shortcomings of former critiques. It remains to be seen whether an adequate account of strikingness exists.

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Dan Baras
Bar-Ilan University, Ramat Gan

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