David Bourget (Western Ontario)
David Chalmers (ANU, NYU)
Rafael De Clercq
Ezio Di Nucci
Jonathan Jenkins Ichikawa
Jack Alan Reynolds
Learn more about PhilPapers
In G. Hon & S. Rakover (eds.), Explanation. Springer Netherlands 43-59 (2001)
We are addicted to explanation, constantly asking and answering why-questions. But what does an explanation give us? I will consider some of the possible goods, intrinsic and instrumental, that explanations provide. The name for the intrinsic good of explanation is `understanding', but what is this? In the first part of this paper I will canvass various conceptions of understanding, according to which explanations provide reasons for belief, make familiar, unify, show to be necessary, or give causes. Three general features of explanation will serve as tests of these varied conceptions. These features are: a) the distinction between knowing that a phenomena occurs and understanding why it does; b) the possibility of giving explanations that are not themselves explained; c) the possibility of explaining a phenomenon in cases where the phenomenon itself provides an essential part of the reason for believing that the explanation is correct. There are many other aspects of our explanatory practices that a good account of explanation and understanding should capture, but these simple tests provide surprisingly effective diagnostic tools for the evaluation of broad conceptions of the nature of understanding. It will turn out that the causal conception of understanding does particularly well on the tests, though of course it too faces various difficulties. The balance of this essay focuses on the causal conception. After addressing some of the difficulties it faces, I will ask..
|Keywords||No keywords specified (fix it)|
|Categories||categorize this paper)|
Setup an account with your affiliations in order to access resources via your University's proxy server
Configure custom proxy (use this if your affiliation does not provide a proxy)
|Through your library|
References found in this work BETA
No references found.
Citations of this work BETA
Stephen R. Grimm (2010). The Goal of Explanation. Studies in the History and Philosophy of Science 41 (4):337-344.
Similar books and articles
K. Khalifa (2013). The Role of Explanation in Understanding. British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 64 (1):161-187.
J. D. Trout (2002). Scientific Explanation and the Sense of Understanding. Philosophy of Science 69 (2):212-233.
Rebecca Schweder (2005). A Defense of a Unificationist Theory of Explanation. Foundations of Science 10 (4):421-435.
Michael Strevens (2013). No Understanding Without Explanation. Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part A 44 (3):510-515.
William F. Brewer, Clark A. Chinn & Ala Samarapungavan (1998). Explanation in Scientists and Children. Minds and Machines 8 (1):119-136.
J. D. Trout (2007). The Psychology of Scientific Explanation. Philosophy Compass 2 (3):564–591.
Denis J. Hilton (1996). Mental Models and Causal Explanation: Judgements of Probable Cause and Explanatory Relevance. Thinking and Reasoning 2 (4):273 – 308.
Kareem Khalifa (2011). Understanding, Knowledge, and Scientific Antirealism. Grazer Philosophische Studien 83 (1):93-112.
Abraham S. Roth (1999). Reasons Explanations of Actions: Causal, Singular, and Situational. Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 59 (4):839-874.
Elizabeth Valentine (1988). Teleological Explanations and Their Relation to Causal Explanation in Psychology. Philosophical Psychology 1 (1):61-68.
Jeroen de Ridder (2006). Mechanistic Artefact Explanation. Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part A 37 (1):81-96.
Uri D. Leibowitz (2011). Scientific Explanation and Moral Explanation. Noûs 45 (3):472-503.
Rasmus Grønfeldt Winther (2011). Part-Whole Science. Synthese 178 (3):397-427.
Arno Wouters (1995). Viability Explanation. Biology and Philosophy 10 (4):435-457.
Kristin Andrews (2003). Knowing Mental States: The Asymmetry of Psychological Prediction and Explanation. In Quentin Smith & Aleksandar Jokic (eds.), Consciousness: New Philosophical Perspectives. Oxford University Press
Added to index2010-12-22
Total downloads118 ( #34,432 of 1,934,588 )
Recent downloads (6 months)12 ( #44,741 of 1,934,588 )
How can I increase my downloads?