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Degree of explanation

Northcott, Robert (2013) Degree of explanation. Synthese, 190 (15). pp. 3087-3105. ISSN 1573-0964


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Partial explanations are everywhere. That is, explanations citing causes that explain some but not all of an effect are ubiquitous across science, and these in turn rely on the notion of degree of explanation. I argue that current accounts are seriously deficient. In particular, they do not incorporate adequately the way in which a cause’s explanatory importance varies with choice of explanandum. Using influential recent contrastive theories, I develop quantitative definitions that remedy this lacuna, and relate it to existing measures of degree of causation. Among other things, this reveals the precise role here of chance, as well as bearing on the relation between causal explanation and causation itself.

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Item Type: Published Article or Volume
Keywords: explanation; causation; probability; contrastive
Subjects: General Issues > Causation
General Issues > Explanation
Depositing User: Dr Robert Northcott
Date Deposited: 29 Nov 2018 17:05
Last Modified: 29 Nov 2018 17:05
Item ID: 15390
Journal or Publication Title: Synthese
Publisher: Springer (Springer Science+Business Media B.V.)
Subjects: General Issues > Causation
General Issues > Explanation
Date: October 2013
Page Range: pp. 3087-3105
Volume: 190
Number: 15
ISSN: 1573-0964

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