Explanatory disunities and the unity of science

Abstract According to John Dupré, the metaphysics underpinning modern science posits a deterministic, fully law?governed and potentially fully intelligible structure that pervades the entire universe. To reject such a metaphysical framework for science is to subscribe to ?the disorder of things?, and the latter, according to Dupré, entails the impossibility of a unified science. Dupré's argument rests crucially upon purported disunities evident in the explanatory practices of science. I critically examine the implied project of drawing metaphysical conclusions from epistemological premisses concerning the nature of our explanatory practices. I then argue that Dupré fails to answer a particular argument for the ontological unity of science that rests upon assumptions about the causal structure of the world. This ?causal? argument for the unity of science might be countered by a more radical metaphysical revisionism. The latter, however, seems unable to account for features of our explanatory practices that testify to a measure of explanatory unity in science. I conclude by sketching a strategy that might enable the revisionist to overcome such difficulties
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DOI 10.1080/02698599608573526
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David Jon Spurrett (1999). Fundamental Laws and the Completeness of Physics. International Studies in the Philosophy of Science 13 (3):261 – 274.
Stéphanie Ruphy (2005). Why Metaphysical Abstinence Should Prevail in the Debate on Reductionism. International Studies in the Philosophy of Science 19 (2):105 – 121.

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