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Scientific Explanation

Volume 13: Minnesota Studies in Philosophy of Science

Table of Contents

Preface…xiii

Four Decades of Scientific Explanation…3

Wesley C. Salmon

  1. Introduction…3
    • 0.1 A Bit of Background…4
    • 0.2 The Received View…8
  2. The First Decade (1948-57): Peace in the Valley(but Some Trouble in the Foothills)…11
    • 1.1 The Fountainhead: The Deductive-Nomological Model…12
    • 1.2 Explanation in History and Prehistory…25
    • 1.3 Teleology and Functional Explanation…26
  3. The Second Decade (1958-67): Manifest Destiny-Expansion and Conflict…33
    • 2.1 A Major Source of Conflict…35
    • 2.2 Deeper Linguistic Challenges…37
    • 2.3 Famous Counterexamples to the Deductive-Nomological Model…46
    • 2.4 Statistical Explanation…50
      • 2.4.1 The Deductive-Statistical Model…51
      • 2.4.2 The Inductive-Statistical Model…53
    • 2.5 Early Objections to the Inductive-Statistical Model…58
  4. The Third Decade (1968-77): Deepening Differences…61
    • 3.1 The Statistical-Relevance Model…62
    • 3.2 Problems with Maximal Specificity…68
    • 3.3 Coffa's Dispositional Theory of Inductive Explanation…83
    • 3.4 Explanation and Evidence…89
    • 3.5 Explanations of Laws…94
    • 3.6 Are Explanations Arguments?…101
    • 3.7 The Challenge of Causality…107
    • 3.8 Teleological and Functional Explanation…111
    • 3.9 The End of a Decade/The End of an Era?…116
  5. The Fourth Decade (1978-87): A Time of Maturation…117
    • 4.1 New Foundations…117
    • 4.2 Theoretical Explanation…122
    • 4.3 Descriptive vs. Explanatory Knowledge…126
    • 4.4 The Pragmatics of Explanation…138
    • 4.5 Empiricism and Realism…150
    • 4.6 Railton's Nomothetic/Mechanistic Account…154
    • 4.7 Aleatory Explanation: Statistical vs. Causal Relevance…166
    • 4.8 Probabilistic Causality…168
    • 4.9 Deductivism…172
    • 4.10 Explanations of Laws Again…177
    • 4.11 A Fundamental Principle Challenged…178
  6. Conclusion: Peaceful Coexistence?…180
    • 5.1 Consensus or Rapprochement?…180
    • 5.2 Agenda for the Fifth Decade…185
  7. Chronological Bibliography…196

Explanation and Metaphysical Controversy…220
Peter Railton

Explanation: In Search of the Rationale…253
Matti Sintonen

  1. Why-Questions…254
  2. A Thin Logic of Questions…257
  3. The Epistemic Conception of Explanation…261
  4. Theory Nets and Explanatory Commitments…265
  5. Pruning the Web of Belief…269
  6. Beyond the Third Dogma of Empiricism…273

Scientific Explanation: The Causes, Some of the Causes, and Nothing But the Causes…283
Paul W. Humphreys

  1. Introduction…283
  2. The Multiplicity, Diversity, and Incompleteness of Causal Explanations…285
  3. The Canonical Form for Causal Explanations…286
  4. Ontology…288
  5. Why Probability Values Are Not Explanatory…293
  6. Why Ask Why-Questions?…296

Appendix: The Causal Failures of the Covering-Law Model…300

Pure, Mixed, and Spurious Probabilities and Their Significance for a Reductionist Theory of Causation…307
David Papineau

  1. Introduction…307
  2. Some Initial Intuitions…309
  3. Pure and Mixed Probabilities…310
  4. Screening Off and Spurious Correlations…312
  5. Spuriousness and Statistical Research…314
  6. The Importance of the Single Case…315
  7. The Compatibility of Probabilistic Intuitions with a Deterministic View of Causation…317
  8. The Deterministic Causation of Chances…319
  9. Rational Action…321
  10. Quantitative Decisions…322
  11. Causal and Evidential Decision Theory…324
  12. Action and Causation Again…328
  13. The Metaphysics of Probability…330
  14. Causal Chains…331
  15. Causal Asymmetry…334
  16. Digression on Independence Requirements…337
  17. Causal Processes and Pseudo-Processes…341
  18. Negative Causes…343

Capacities and Abstractions…349
Nancy Cartwright

  1. The Primacy of Singular Causes…349
  2. The Failure of the Defeasibility Account…350
  3. Abstractions and Idealizations…352
  4. Conclusion…355

The Causal Mechanical Model of Explanation…357
James Woodward

Explanation in the Social Sciences…384
Merrilee H. Salmon

  1. Introduction…384
  2. Interpretativism…388
  3. Rationality and Explanations of Behavior…394
  4. The Existence of Appropriate Laws…399
  5. Ethical Issues…404
  6. Conclusion…408

Explanatory Unification and the Causal Structure of the World…410
Philip Kitcher

  1. Introduction…410
    • 1.1 Hempel's Accounts…410
    • 1.2 Hempel's Problems…411
  2. The Pragmatics of Explanation…413
    • 2.1 Van Fraassen's Pragmatics…414
    • 2.2 Why Pragmatics Is Not Enough…415
    • 2.3 Possible Goals for a Theory of Explanation…417
  3. Explanation as Delineation of Causes…419
    • 3.1 Causal Why-Questions and Causal Explanations…420
    • 3.2 Are there Noncausal Explanations of Singular Propositions?…422
    • 3.3 Causal Explanation and Theoretical Explanation…428
  4. Explanation as Unification…430
    • 4.1 The Ideal of Unification…430
    • 4.2 Argument Patterns…432
    • 4.3 Systematization of Belief…434
    • 4.4 Why-Questions Revisited…435
    • 4.5 Explanatory Unification and Causal Dependence…436
    • 4.6 Unification and Theoretical Explanation…437
      • 4.6.1 Classical Genetics…438
      • 4.6.2 Darwinian Evolutionary Theory…442
      • 4.6.3 The Theory of the Chemical Bond…445
      • 4.6.4 Conclusions from the Examples…447
  5. A Defense of Deductive Chauvinism…448
    • 5.1 The Objection from Quantum Mechanics…450
    • 5.2 The Idealization of Macro-Phenomena…452
    • 5.3 Further Sources of Indeterminism?…454
    • 5.4 Two Popular Examples…455
    • 5.5 Explanation and Responsibility…457
  6. Epistemological Difficulties for the Causal Approach…459
    • 6.1 Hume's Ghost…460
    • 6.2 Causal Processes and Causal Interactions…461
      • 6.2.1 Some Problems about Processes…463
      • 6.2.2 Troubles with Interactions…464
    • 6.3 Causation and Counterfactuals…470
    • 6.4 Justifying Counterfactuals…473
    • 6.5 Changing the Epistemological Frarnework…475
  7. Comparative Unification…477
    • 7.1 Comparative Unification without Change of Belief…477
    • 7.2 The Possibility of Gerrymandering…480
    • 7.3 Asymmetry and Irrelevance…482
      • 7.3.1 The"Hexed" Salt…482
      • 7.3.2 Towers and Shadows…484
      • 7.3.3 When Shadows Cross…487
    • 7.4 Comparative Unification and Scientific Change…488
  8. Metaphysical Issues…494
    • 8.1 Correct Explanation…494
    • 8.2 "What If the World Isn't Unified?"…494
    • 8.3 Correct Explanation Again…497
    • 8.4 Conclusions…499

Contributors…507

Index…509

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