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In Defense of Really Statistical Explanations

Lange, Marc (2022) In Defense of Really Statistical Explanations. [Preprint]

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According to Lange (2013, 2017), “Really Statistical (RS) explanations” constitute an important kind of non-causal scientific explanation. However, Roski (2021) has argued that all alleged RS explanations are either causal explanations or not explanations at all. In so arguing, Roski has invoked Kahneman’s (2011) interpretation of one alleged RS explanation. I employ Roski’s arguments as an opportunity to elaborate and defend RS explanations. I argue that “RS explanations” genuinely explain rather than deny the presuppositions of why-questions. I argue that the RS model is not excessively permissive in allowing some explanations to work purely statistically rather than by describing causal relations. I argue that Roski’s view that some “RS explanations” operate by describing causal relations fails to capture the kind of explanatory insight that RS explanations provide. I elaborate the notion of a “characteristically statistical phenomenon” that figures in the RS model and thereby explain why only collective facts have RS explanations. Finally, I argue that Roski misinterprets Kahneman, who actually holds that the explanation he discusses is a non-causal explanation that nicely fits the RS model. RS explanations constitute an important kind of non-causal scientific explanation.

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Item Type: Preprint
Additional Information: forthcoming in Synthese
Keywords: causation, chance, explanation, regression toward the mean, statistics
Subjects: General Issues > Explanation
Depositing User: Prof. Marc Lange
Date Deposited: 22 Aug 2022 02:56
Last Modified: 22 Aug 2022 02:56
Item ID: 21081
Subjects: General Issues > Explanation
Date: August 2022

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