The contrast theory of why-questions

Philosophy of Science 55 (1):141-151 (1988)
Classic studies of explanation, such as those of Hempel and Bromberger, took it for granted that an explanation-seeking question of the form "Why P?" should be understood as asking about the proposition P. This view has been recently challenged by Bas van Fraassen and Alan Garfinkel. They acknowledge that some questions have the surface form "Why P?", but they hold that a correct reading for why-questions should take the form "Why P (rather than Q)?", where Q is a contrasting alternative. This contrast theory is discussed here. It is argued that, properly understood, the contrast theory and the propositional approach can and should give equivalent readings to why-questions
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DOI 10.1086/289421
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Antti Karjalainen & Adam Morton (2003). Contrastive Knowledge. Philosophical Explorations 6 (2):74 – 89.

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