A Problem-Solving Account of Scientific Explanation

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An account of scientific explanation is presented according to which (1) scientific explanation consists in solving “insight” problems (Metcalfe and Wiebe 1984) and (2) understanding is the result of solving such problems. The theory is pragmatic; it draws upon van Fraassen’s (1977, 1980) insights, avoids the objections to pragmatic accounts offered by Kitcher and Salmon (1987), and relates scientific explanation directly to understanding. The theory also accommodates cases of explanatory asymmetry and intuitively legitimate rejections of explanation requests.
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