Explanation, Unification, and What Chemistry Gets from Causation

Philosophy of Science 71 (5):1060-1070 (2004)
Abstract
I consider a way the concept of causation could be excised from chemical practice, suggested by Kitcher's view that causes are just a subset of unifying patterns which play a particular psychological role for us. \Kitcherian chemistry is at first blush well equipped to handle explanatory tasks. However, it would force chemists to accept certain unifying patterns as explanatory, which they do not think are at all explanatory. This might head off some descriptive lines of enquiry and damage prospects for the identification of potentially larger-scale explanations. More important than this, to chemists, it could put them off from finding the explanatory patterns that are true — true because they get at the real structure of the chemical phenomena in the world.
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