A plea for pseudo‐processes

Pacific Philosophical Quarterly 66 (3-4):303 (1985)
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Abstract
Is all explanations causal explanation? Puzzles about barometer readings "explain" storms and shadow lengths "explaining" flagpole heights make it attractive to think so. Wesley Salmon (1984) has endorsed this causal thesis. One way to test this thesis is to assess the explanatory import of pseudo-processes. I do so by discussing the concept of heritability, which measures a pseudo-process, and one role it played in the theory of natural selection: explaining response to selection. This will show, not just that heritability has heuristic or predictive utility, but that it can be explanatory. Possible responses to this case are also discussed.
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