Levels of explanation reconceived

Philosophy of Science 77 (1):59-72 (2010)
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A common argument against explanatory reductionism is that higher‐level explanations are sometimes or always preferable because they are more general than reductive explanations. Here I challenge two basic assumptions that are needed for that argument to succeed. It cannot be assumed that higher‐level explanations are more general than their lower‐level alternatives or that higher‐level explanations are general in the right way to be explanatory. I suggest a novel form of pluralism regarding levels of explanation, according to which explanations at different levels are preferable in different circumstances because they offer different types of generality, which are appropriate in different circumstances of explanation. *Received July 2009; revised September 2009. †To contact the author, please write to: Department of Philosophy, Oklahoma State University, 246 Murray Hall, Stillwater, OK 74078; e‐mail: angela.potochnik@okstate.edu.
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The Scientific Image.Friedman, Michael

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Patterns in Cognitive Phenomena and Pluralism of Explanatory Styles.Potochnik, Angela & Sanches de Oliveira, Guilherme
Explanatory Abstractions.Jansson, Lina & Saatsi, Juha
The Limitations of Hierarchical Organization.Potochnik, Angela & McGill, Brian

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