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Explanation and Understanding: An Alternative to Strevens' Depth

Potochnik, Angela (2011) Explanation and Understanding: An Alternative to Strevens' Depth. [Preprint]

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Abstract

In Depth (2009), Michael Strevens offers an account of causal explanation according to which explanatory practice is shaped by counterbalanced commitments to representing causal influence and abstracting away from overly specific details. Here I outline Strevens’ approach to event explanation and raise one concern with that account. I argue that what Strevens calls explanatory frameworks figure prominently in explanatory practice because, contrary to Strevens’ view, they actually improve explanations. This suggestion is simple but has far-reaching implications. It affects the status of explanations that cite multiply realizable properties; the explanatory role of causal factors with small effect; and Strevens’ titular explanatory virtue, depth. This results in greater coherence with explanatory practice and accords with the emphasis that Strevens places on explanatory patterns. Ultimately, my suggestion preserves a tight connection between explanation and the creation of understanding.


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Item Type: Preprint
Creators:
CreatorsEmailORCID
Potochnik, Angela
Keywords: scientific explanation, causal explanation, multiple realizability, causal patterns, scientific understanding
Subjects: General Issues > Explanation
General Issues > Models and Idealization
Depositing User: Angela Potochnik
Date Deposited: 12 May 2021 03:08
Last Modified: 12 May 2021 03:08
Item ID: 19014
Journal or Publication Title: European Journal for the Philosophy of Science
DOI or Unique Handle: https://doi.org/10.1007/s13194-010-0002-6
Subjects: General Issues > Explanation
General Issues > Models and Idealization
Date: 2011
Page Range: pp. 29-38
Volume: 1
Number: 1
URI: https://philsci-archive-dev.library.pitt.edu/id/eprint/19014

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