Explanation, Idealisation and the Goldilocks Problem [Book Review]

Michael Strevens’s book Depth is a great achievement.1 To say anything interesting, useful and true about explanation requires taking on fundamental issues in the metaphysics and epistemology of science. So this book not only tells us a lot about scientific explanation, it has a lot to say about causation, lawhood, probability and the relation between the physical and the special sciences. It should be read by anyone interested in any of those questions, which includes presumably the vast majority of readers of this journal. One of its many virtues is that it lets us see more clearly what questions about explanation, causation, lawhood and so on need answering, and frames those questions in perspicuous ways. I’m going to focus on one of these questions, what I’ll call the Goldilocks problem. As it turns out, I’m not going to agree with all the details of Strevens’s answer to this problem, though I suspect that something like his answer is right. At least, I hope something like his answer is right; if it isn’t, I’m not sure where else we can look.
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DOI 10.1111/j.1933-1592.2011.00574.x
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Elliott Sober (1983). Equilibrium Explanation. Philosophical Studies 43 (2):201 - 210.

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Ken Binmore (1985). Review Symposium. Thesis Eleven 12 (1):145-155.
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