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Eight Other Questions about Explanation

In Alexander Reutlinger & Juha Saatsi (eds.), Explanation Beyond Causation: Philosophical Perspectives on Non-Causal Explanations. Oxford: Oxford University Press (2018)

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  1. Four Decades of Scientific Explanation.Wesley C. Salmon & Anne Fagot-Largeault - 1989 - History and Philosophy of the Life Sciences 16 (2):355.
    As Aristotle stated, scientific explanation is based on deductive argument--yet, Wesley C. Salmon points out, not all deductive arguments are qualified explanations. The validity of the explanation must itself be examined. _Four Decades of Scientific Explanation_ provides a comprehensive account of the developments in scientific explanation that transpired in the last four decades of the twentieth century. It continues to stand as the most comprehensive treatment of the writings on the subject during these years. Building on the historic 1948 essay (...)
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  • The Nature of Explanation.James H. Fetzer - 1984 - Philosophy of Science 51 (3):516-519.
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  • The Scientific Image.Michael Friedman - 1982 - Journal of Philosophy 79 (5):274-283.
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  • Explanation and Scientific Understanding.Michael Friedman - 1974 - Journal of Philosophy 71 (1):5-19.
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  • Idealization and Modeling.Robert W. Batterman - 2009 - Synthese 169 (3):427-446.
    This paper examines the role of mathematical idealization in describing and explaining various features of the world. It examines two cases: first, briefly, the modeling of shock formation using the idealization of the continuum. Second, and in more detail, the breaking of droplets from the points of view of both analytic fluid mechanics and molecular dynamical simulations at the nano-level. It argues that the continuum idealizations are explanatorily ineliminable and that a full understanding of certain physical phenomena cannot be obtained (...)
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  • Depth. An Account of Scientific Explanation.Michael Strevens - 2008 - Harvard University Press.
    Approaches to explanation -- Causal and explanatory relevance -- The kairetic account of /D making -- The kairetic account of explanation -- Extending the kairetic account -- Event explanation and causal claims -- Regularity explanation -- Abstraction in regularity explanation -- Approaches to probabilistic explanation -- Kairetic explanation of frequencies -- Kairetic explanation of single outcomes -- Looking outward -- Looking inward.
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  • No Understanding Without Explanation.Michael Strevens - 2013 - Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part A 44 (3):510-515.
    Scientific understanding, this paper argues, can be analyzed entirely in terms of a mental act of “grasping” and a notion of explanation. To understand why a phenomenon occurs is to grasp a correct explanation of the phenomenon. To understand a scientific theory is to be able to construct, or at least to grasp, a range of potential explanations in which that theory accounts for other phenomena. There is no route to scientific understanding, then, that does not go by way of (...)
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  • How Scientific Models Can Explain.Alisa Bokulich - 2011 - Synthese 180 (1):33 - 45.
    Scientific models invariably involve some degree of idealization, abstraction, or nationalization of their target system. Nonetheless, I argue that there are circumstances under which such false models can offer genuine scientific explanations. After reviewing three different proposals in the literature for how models can explain, I shall introduce a more general account of what I call model explanations, which specify the conditions under which models can be counted as explanatory. I shall illustrate this new framework by applying it to the (...)
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  • Causal Patterns and Adequate Explanations.Angela Potochnik - 2015 - Philosophical Studies 172 (5):1163-1182.
    Causal accounts of scientific explanation are currently broadly accepted (though not universally so). My first task in this paper is to show that, even for a causal approach to explanation, significant features of explanatory practice are not determined by settling how causal facts bear on the phenomenon to be explained. I then develop a broadly causal approach to explanation that accounts for the additional features that I argue an explanation should have. This approach to explanation makes sense of several aspects (...)
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  • The Diverse Aims of Science.Angela Potochnik - 2015 - Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part A 53:71-80.
    There is increasing attention to the centrality of idealization in science. One common view is that models and other idealized representations are important to science, but that they fall short in one or more ways. On this view, there must be an intermediary step between idealized representation and the traditional aims of science, including truth, explanation, and prediction. Here I develop an alternative interpretation of the relationship between idealized representation and the aims of science. In my view, continuing, widespread idealization (...)
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  • Levels of Explanation Reconceived.Angela Potochnik - 2010 - Philosophy of Science 77 (1):59-72.
    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 (...)
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  • The Nature of Explanation.Peter Achinstein - 1983 - Oxford University Press.
    Offering a new approach to scientific explanation, this book focuses initially on the explaining act itself.
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  • Scientific Explanation and the Causal Structure of the World.James Woodward - 1988 - Noûs 22 (2):322-324.
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  • The Scientific Image.C. Van Fraassen Bas - 1980 - Oxford University Press.
    In this book van Fraassen develops an alternative to scientific realism by constructing and evaluating three mutually reinforcing theories.
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  • Scientific Explanation and the Causal Structure of the World.Wesley Salmon - 1984 - Princeton University Press.
    The philosophical theory of scientific explanation proposed here involves a radically new treatment of causality that accords with the pervasively statistical character of contemporary science. Wesley C. Salmon describes three fundamental conceptions of scientific explanation--the epistemic, modal, and ontic. He argues that the prevailing view is untenable and that the modal conception is scientifically out-dated. Significantly revising aspects of his earlier work, he defends a causal/mechanical theory that is a version of the ontic conception. Professor Salmon's theory furnishes a robust (...)
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  • Causal Explanation.David K. Lewis - 1986 - In David Lewis (ed.), Philosophical Papers Vol. Ii. Oxford University Press. pp. 214-240.
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  • Explanatory Depth.Brad Weslake - 2010 - Philosophy of Science 77 (2):273-294.
    I defend an account of explanatory depth according to which explanations in the non-fundamental sciences can be deeper than explanations in fundamental physics.
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  • The Instrumental Value of Explanations.Tania Lombrozo - 2011 - Philosophy Compass 6 (8):539-551.
    Scientific and ‘intuitive’ or ‘folk’ theories are typically characterized as serving three critical functions: prediction, explanation, and control. While prediction and control have clear instrumental value, the value of explanation is less transparent. This paper reviews an emerging body of research from the cognitive sciences suggesting that the process of seeking, generating, and evaluating explanations in fact contributes to future prediction and control, albeit indirectly by facilitating the discovery and confirmation of instrumentally valuable theories. Theoretical and empirical considerations also suggest (...)
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  • Reintroducing Prediction to Explanation.Heather E. Douglas - 2009 - Philosophy of Science 76 (4):444-463.
    Although prediction has been largely absent from discussions of explanation for the past 40 years, theories of explanation can gain much from a reintroduction. I review the history that divorced prediction from explanation, examine the proliferation of models of explanation that followed, and argue that accounts of explanation have been impoverished by the neglect of prediction. Instead of a revival of the symmetry thesis, I suggest that explanation should be understood as a cognitive tool that assists us in generating new (...)
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  • Studies in the Logic of Explanation.Carl G. Hempel & Paul Oppenheim - 1948 - Journal of Symbolic Logic 14 (2):133-133.
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  • Understanding Without Explanation.Peter Lipton - 2009 - In H. W. de Regt, S. Leonelli & K. Eigner (eds.), Scientific Understanding: Philosophical Perspectives. University of Pittsburgh Press. pp. 43-63.
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