Statistical explanation

Philosophy of Science 39 (4):500-506 (1972)
Wesley Salmon has advanced a new model of explanations of particular facts which requires that the explanans contain laws. The laws used in explanations (according to this model) are of the form P(A· C1,B)=p1... P(A· Cn,B)=pn. A condition imposed by Salmon on these laws is that the reference classes, i.e. A· C1... A· Cn, be homogenous with reference to the property B. A reference class A is homogenous with reference to a property B if every property which determines a place selection with reference to B within A is statistically irrelevant to B in A. It is argued here that the concept of homogeneity cannot in general be satisfied in scientific explanations and that even a weaker requirement, "epistemic homogeneity," may be too strong
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DOI 10.1086/288471
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