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Levels of Explanation Reconceived

Potochnik, Angela (2010) Levels of Explanation Reconceived. [Preprint]

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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 levels are preferable in different circumstances because they offer different types of generality, which are appropriate in different circumstances of explanation.

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Item Type: Preprint
Potochnik, Angela
Keywords: scientific explanation, level of explanation, level of organization, reductionism
Subjects: General Issues > Explanation
General Issues > Reductionism/Holism
Depositing User: Angela Potochnik
Date Deposited: 12 May 2021 03:09
Last Modified: 12 May 2021 03:09
Item ID: 19017
Journal or Publication Title: Philosophy of Science
DOI or Unique Handle:
Subjects: General Issues > Explanation
General Issues > Reductionism/Holism
Date: 2010
Page Range: pp. 59-72
Volume: 77
Number: 1

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