Judgements of Metaphysical Explanations are Context Sensitive

Abstract

Empirical investigation of the conditions under which people prefer, or disprefer, causal explanation, has suggested to many that our judgements about what causally explains what are context sensitive in a number of ways. This has led many to suppose that whether or not a causal explanation obtains depends on various contextual factors, and that said explanations can obtain in one context, and not in another: they are both subjective and agent-relative. Surprisingly, most accounts of metaphysical explanation suppose there to be no psychological, epistemic, or more broadly contextual, aspect to metaphysical explanation. Recently this approach has come under fire from those who argue that since metaphysical explanations are explanations, we should expect them to be both subjective and agent-relative. To date, however, there is no evidence about the conditions under which we make judgements about what metaphysically explains what. In what follows we remedy this. We find that judgements about what metaphysically explains what are indeed context sensitive. We then reflect on the implications of this discovery for extant accounts of metaphysical explanation.

Author Profiles

Andrew James Latham
Aarhus University
Kristie Miller
University of Sydney

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