Backwards explanation

Philosophical Studies 140 (1):103 - 115 (2008)
We discuss explanation of an earlier event by a later event, and argue that prima facie cases of backwards event explanation are ubiquitous. Some examples: (1) I am tidying my flat because my brother is coming to visit tomorrow. (2) The scarlet pimpernels are closing because it is about to rain. (3) The volcano is smoking because it is going to erupt soon. We then look at various ways people might attempt to explain away these prima facie cases by arguing that in each case the 'real' explanation is something else. We argue that none of the explaining-away strategies are successful, and so any plausible account of explanation should either make room for backwards explanation, or have a good story to tell about why it doesn't have to.
Keywords Explanation  Teleology  Functional explanation
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DOI 10.2307/27734282
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Richard J. Fry (forthcoming). Backwards Explanation and Unification. European Journal for Philosophy of Science:1-16.

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