Metaphysically explanatory unification

Philosophical Studies 177 (6):1659-1683 (2020)
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Abstract

This paper develops and motivates a unification theory of metaphysical explanation, or as I will call it, Metaphysical Unificationism. The theory’s main inspiration is the unification account of scientific explanation, according to which explanatoriness is a holistic feature of theories that derive a large number of explananda from a meager set of explanantia, using a small number of argument patterns. In developing Metaphysical Unificationism, I will point out that it has a number of interesting consequences. The view offers a novel conception of metaphysical explanation that doesn’t rely on the notion of a “determinative” or “explanatory” relation; it allows us to draw a principled distinction between metaphysical and scientific explanations; it implies that naturalness and fundamentality are distinct but intimately related notions; and perhaps most importantly, it re-establishes the unduly neglected link between explanation and understanding in the metaphysical realm. A number of objections can be raised against the view, but I will argue that none of these is conclusive. The upshot is that Metaphysical Unificationism provides a powerful and hitherto overlooked alternative to extant theories of metaphysical explanation.

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David Mark Kovacs
Tel Aviv University

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