Scientific Explanation: Three Basic Conceptions

Abstract
By contrasting three general conceptions of scientific explanation, this paper seeks to clarify the explanandum and to exhibit the fundamental philosophical issues involved in the project of explicating scientific explanation. The three conceptions--epistemic, modal, and ontic--have both historical and contemporary importance. In the context of Laplacian determinism, they do not seem importantly distinct, but in the context of irreducibly statistical explanations, the three are seen to diverge sharply. The paper argues for a causal/mechanical version of the ontic conception, and concludes by exhibiting some striking consequences of this approach.
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Cory D. Wright (2012). Mechanistic Explanation Without the Ontic Conception. European Journal of Philosophy of Science 2 (3):375-394.
Henk W. de Regt (2006). Wesley Salmon's Complementarity Thesis: Causalism and Unificationism Reconciled? International Studies in the Philosophy of Science 20 (2):129 – 147.
Peter Lipton (2001). What Good Is an Explanation? In G. Hon & S. Rakover (eds.), Explanation. Springer Netherlands. 43-59.
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