Explanation and Subsumption

PSA: Proceedings of the Biennial Meeting of the Philosophy of Science Association 1978:163 - 175 (1978)
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Abstract

The thesis that subsumption is sufficient for explanation is dying out, but the thesis that it is necessary is alive and well. It is difficult to attack this thesis: non-subsumptive counter-examples are declared incomplete, or mere promissory notes. No theory, it is thought, can be explanatory unless it resorts to subsumption at some point. In this paper I attack this thesis by describing a theory that (1) would explain every event it could describe, (2) does not explain by subsumption, and (3) is fundamental in that it is understood to be irreducible (hence there are no unstated laws waiting in the wings).

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Robert Cummins
University of California, Davis

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