The directionality of distinctively mathematical explanations

Download Edit this record How to cite View on PhilPapers
Abstract
In “What Makes a Scientific Explanation Distinctively Mathematical?” (2013b), Lange uses several compelling examples to argue that certain explanations for natural phenomena appeal primarily to mathematical, rather than natural, facts. In such explanations, the core explanatory facts are modally stronger than facts about causation, regularity, and other natural relations. We show that Lange's account of distinctively mathematical explanation is flawed in that it fails to account for the implicit directionality in each of his examples. This inadequacy is remediable in each case by appeal to ontic facts that account for why the explanation is acceptable in one direction and unacceptable in the other direction. The mathematics involved in these examples cannot play this crucial normative role. While Lange's examples fail to demonstrate the existence of distinctively mathematical explanations, they help to emphasize that many superficially natural scientific explanations rely for their explanatory force on relations of stronger-than-natural necessity. These are not opposing kinds of scientific explanations; they are different aspects of scientific explanation.
PhilPapers/Archive ID
POVTDO
Revision history
First archival date: 2017-05-26
Latest version: 3 (2017-05-31)
View upload history
References found in this work BETA
Thinking About Mechanisms.Machamer, Peter K.; Darden, Lindley & Craver, Carl F.

View all 14 references / Add more references

Citations of this work BETA
Counterfactuals and Explanatory Pluralism.Khalifa, Kareem; Doble, Gabriel & Millson, Jared

Add more citations

Added to PP index
2017-05-26

Total views
573 ( #4,182 of 39,938 )

Recent downloads (6 months)
68 ( #6,760 of 39,938 )

How can I increase my downloads?

Downloads since first upload
This graph includes both downloads from PhilArchive and clicks to external links.