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Model Explanation versus Model-Induced Explanation

Lawler, Insa and Sullivan, Emily (2020) Model Explanation versus Model-Induced Explanation. [Preprint]


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Scientists appeal to models when explaining phenomena. Such explanations are often dubbed model explanations or model-based explanations (short: ME). But what are the precise conditions for ME? Are ME special explanations? In our paper, we first rebut two definitions of ME and specify a more promising one. Based on this analysis, we single out
a related conception that is concerned with explanations that are induced from working with a model. We call them ‘model-induced explanations’ (MIE). Second, we study three paradigmatic cases of alleged ME. We argue that all of them are MIE, upon closer examination. Third, we argue that this undermines the building consensus that model explanations are special explanations that, e.g., challenge the factivity of explanation. Instead, it suggests that what is special about models in science is the epistemology behind how models induce explanations.

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Item Type: Preprint
Lawler, Insairlawler@uncg.edu0000-0002-1250-6020
Sullivan, Emilyeesullivan29@gmail.com0000-0002-2073-5384
Additional Information: This is a pre-print of an article published in Foundations of Science. The final authenticated version is available online at:
Keywords: Model, Explanation, Model-based Explanation, Idealization
Subjects: General Issues > Explanation
General Issues > Models and Idealization
Depositing User: Dr. Insa Lawler
Date Deposited: 09 Feb 2020 02:25
Last Modified: 09 Feb 2020 02:25
Item ID: 16899
Official URL:
DOI or Unique Handle:
Subjects: General Issues > Explanation
General Issues > Models and Idealization
Date: 2020

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