Explanation

Edited by Brad Weslake (New York University, Shanghai)
Assistant editor: Zili Dong (University of Western Ontario)
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  1. The Structure of Essentialist Explanations of Necessity.Michael Wallner - 2020 - Thought: A Journal of Philosophy 9 (1):4-13.
    Fine, Lowe and Hale accept the view that necessity is to be explained by essences: Necessarily p iff, and because, there is some x whose essence ensures that p. Hale, however, believes that this strategy is not universally applicable; he argues that the necessity of essentialist truths cannot itself be explained by once again appealing to essentialist truths. As a consequence, Hale holds that there are basic necessities that cannot be explained. Thus, Hale style essentialism falls short of what Wilsch (...)
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  2. Why Do Certain States of Affairs Call Out for Explanation? A Critique of Two Horwichian Accounts.Dan Baras - 2019 - Philosophia 47 (5):1405-1419.
    Motivated by examples, many philosophers believe that there is a significant distinction between states of affairs that are striking and therefore call for explanation and states of affairs that are not striking. This idea underlies several influential debates in metaphysics, philosophy of mathematics, normative theory, philosophy of modality, and philosophy of science but is not fully elaborated or explored. This paper aims to address this lack of clear explanation first by clarifying the epistemological issue at hand. Then it introduces an (...)
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  3. In Defence of Armchair Expertise.Theodore Bach - 2019 - Theoria 85 (5):350-382.
    In domains like stock brokerage, clinical psychiatry, and long‐term political forecasting, experts generally fail to outperform novices. Empirical researchers agree on why this is: experts must receive direct or environmental learning feedback during training to develop reliable expertise, and these domains are deficient in this type of feedback. A growing number of philosophers resource this consensus view to argue that, given the absence of direct or environmental philosophical feedback, we should not give the philosophical intuitions or theories of expert philosophers (...)
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  4. Beyond the Instinct-Inference Dichotomy: A Unified Interpretation of Peirce's Theory of Abduction.Mousa Mohammadian - 2019 - Transactions of the Charles S. Peirce Society 55 (2):138-160.
    I examine and resolve an exegetical dichotomy between two main interpretations of Peirce’s theory of abduction, namely, the Generative Interpretation and the Pursuitworthiness Interpretation. According to the former, abduction is the instinctive process of generating explanatory hypotheses through a mental faculty called insight. According to the latter, abduction is a rule-governed procedure for determining the relative pursuitworthiness of available hypotheses and adopting the worthiest one for further investigation—such as empirical tests—based on economic considerations. It is shown that the Generative Interpretation (...)
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  5. Is It Reasonable to Believe That Miracles Occur?Alberto Oya - 2019 - Teorema: International Journal of Philosophy 38 (2):39-50.
    Traditionally, miracles have been defined as supernaturally caused events which are outside the scope of scientific explicability. In this paper I will criticize the argument that, when we lack a scientific explanation for an event but it has an adequate explanation in theistic terms, then the most reasonable conclusion is to claim that the event is a miracle. I will defend that this argument would not work unless we had prior independent evidence for God’s existence. Furthermore, I will argue that (...)
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  6. Struktura objašnjenja (Structure of Explanations).Daniel Kostic - 2012 - Belgrade, Serbia: Treći program.
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  7. Speech Act Theory and the Multiple Aims of Science.Paul L. Franco - 2019 - Philosophy of Science 86 (5):1005-1015.
    I draw upon speech act theory to understand the speech acts appropriate to the multiple aims of scientific practice and the role of nonepistemic values in evaluating speech acts made relative to those aims. First, I look at work that distinguishes explaining from describing within scientific practices. I then argue speech act theory provides a framework to make sense of how explaining, describing, and other acts have different felicity conditions. Finally, I argue that if explaining aims to convey understanding to (...)
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  8. Berkeley, Newton, Explanation, and Causation.Richard Brook - 2019 - Ruch Filozoficzny 74 (4):21.
    Berkeley, Newton, Explanation, and Causation -/- I argue in this paper that Berkeley’s conception of natural law explanations, which echoes Newton’s, fails to solve a fundamental problem, which I label “explanatory asymmetry"; that the model of explanation Berkeley uses fails to distinguish between explanations and justifications, particularly since Berkeley denies real (efficient causes) in non-minded nature. At the end I suggest Berkeley might endorse a notion of understanding, say in astronomy or mechanics, which could be distinguished from explanation.
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  9. The End of Mystery.Sam Baron & Mark Colyvan - 2019 - American Philosophical Quarterly 56 (3):247-264.
    Tim travels back in time and tries to kill his grandfather before his father was born. Tim fails. But why? Lewis's response was to cite "coincidences": Tim is the unlucky subject of gun jammings, banana peels, sudden changes of heart, and so on. A number of challenges have been raised against Lewis's response. The latest of these focuses on explanation. This paper diagnoses the source of this new disgruntlement and offers an alternative explanation for Tim's failure, one that Lewis would (...)
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  10. Is Understanding Reducible?Lewis D. Ross - 2020 - Inquiry: An Interdisciplinary Journal of Philosophy 63 (2):117-135.
    Despite playing an important role in epistemology, philosophy of science, and more recently in moral philosophy and aesthetics, the nature of understanding is still much contested. One attractive framework attempts to reduce understanding to other familiar epistemic states. This paper explores and develops a methodology for testing such reductionist theories before offering a counterexample to a recently defended variant on which understanding reduces to what an agent knows.
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  11. The Structure and Epistemic Import of Multiple Determination in Scientific Practice.Klodian Coko - 2015 - Dissertation, Indiana University
    Empirical multiple determination (multiple determination, for short) is the epistemic strategy of establishing the same result by means of multiple and independent procedures. It is an important epistemic strategy praised by both philosophers of science and practicing scientists. Commentators from different contexts have referred to multiple determination as one of the main strategies that researchers use to establish the reliability of their results. Multiple determination has been used to address a variety of problems that arise because of the fallibility of (...)
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  12. Indispensable Falsehoods.Kevin McCain - 2018 - Science & Education 27 (5-6):547-550.
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  13. Indispensability, Causation and Explanation.Sorin Bangu - 2018 - Theoria : An International Journal for Theory, History and Fundations of Science 33 (2):219-232.
    When considering mathematical realism, some scientific realists reject it, and express sympathy for the opposite view, mathematical nominalism; moreover, many justify this option by invoking the causal inertness of mathematical objects. The main aim of this note is to show that the scientific realists’ endorsement of this causal mathematical nominalism is in tension with another position some of them also accept, the doctrine of methodological naturalism. By highlighting this conflict, I intend to tip the balance in favor of a rival (...)
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  14. Frameworks for Historians & Philosophers.Adrian Currie & Kirsten Walsh - 2018 - Hopos: The Journal of the International Society for the History of Philosophy of Science 9:1-34.
    The past can be a stubborn subject: it is complex, heterogeneous and opaque. To understand it, one must decide which aspects of the past to emphasise and which to minimise. Enter frameworks. Frameworks foreground certain aspects of the historical record while backgrounding others. As such, they are both necessary for, and conducive to, good history as well as good philosophy. We examine the role of frameworks in the history and philosophy of science and argue that they are necessary for both (...)
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  15. Philosophy of Science A to Z, Arabic Translation فلسفة العلم من الألف إلى الياء.Salah Osman - 2018 - Cairo, Cairo Governorate, Egypt: Ministry of Culture, National Center for Translation.
    دليل مُرتَّب أبجديًا للمصطلحات الأساسية، وكذلك لأشهر الأعلام، في المجالات المختلفة لفلسفة العلم. يُغطي الكتاب أبرز المشكلات، والمواقف، والتصورات، والحجج التي كانت مثار مناقشات واسعة بين الفلاسفة. والهدف الأساسي له هو فهم المناقشات الحالية من خلال تتبع وتفسير تطوراتها التاريخية وارتباطاتها بالمسائل الفلسفية الأبعد. ومع أن الكتاب يفترض مسبقًا وجود خلفية معرفية بفلسفة العلم لدى القارئ، إلا أنه مفيد بالقدر ذاته لكل من المبتدئين من دارسي فلسفة العلم، والمتخصصين ذوي الخبرات الواسعة، فضلاً عن عامة القُراء. وسوف يجد القارئ من خلال (...)
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  16. The Difference Between Epistemic and Metaphysical Necessity.Martin Glazier - forthcoming - Synthese.
    Philosophers have observed that metaphysical necessity appears to be a true or real or genuine form of necessity while epistemic necessity does not. Similarly, natural necessity appears genuine while deontic necessity does not. But what is it for a form of necessity to be genuine? I defend an account of genuine necessity in explanatory terms. The genuine forms of necessity, I argue, are those that provide what I call necessitarian explanation. I discuss the relationship of necessitarian explanation to ground.
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  17. Nomothetic Explanation and Humeanism About Laws of Nature.Harjit Bhogal - forthcoming - Oxford Studies in Metaphysics.
    Humeanism about laws of nature — the view that the laws reduce to the Humean mosaic — is a popular view, but currently existing versions face powerful objections. The non-supervenience objection, the non-fundamentality objection and the explanatory circularity objection have all been thought to cause problems for the Humean. However, these objections share a guiding thought — they are all based on the idea that there is a certain kind of divergence between the practice of science and the metaphysical picture (...)
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  18. Explanation, Causation and Deduction. Fred Wilson.Robert L. Causey - 1987 - Philosophy of Science 54 (2):311-313.
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  19. Inferentialist-Expressivism for Explanatory Vocabulary.Jared A. Millson, Kareem Khalifa & Mark Risjord - 2018 - In Ondřej Beran, Vojtěch Kolman & Ladislav Koreň (eds.), From rules to meanings. New essays on inferentialism. Routledge.
    In this essay, we extend earlier inferentialist-expressivist treatments of traditional logical, semantic, modal, and representational vocabulary (Brandom 1994, 2008, 2015; Peregrin 2014) to explanatory vocabulary. From this perspective, Inference to the Best Explanation (IBE) appears to be an obvious starting point. In its simplest formulation, IBE has the form: A best explains why B, B; so A. It thereby captures one of the central inferential features of explanation. An inferentialist-expressivist treatment of “best explains” would treat it as a logical operator. (...)
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  20. Unification and Explanation: Explanation as a Prototype Concept. A Reply to Weber and van Dyck, Gijsberg, and de Regt.Gerhard Schurz - 2014 - Theoria : An International Journal for Theory, History and Fundations of Science 29 (1):57-70.
    __In this paper I investigate unification as a virtue of explanation. I the first part of the paper I give a brief exposition of the unification account of Schurz and Lambert and Schurz. I illustrate the advantages of this account in comparison to the older unification accounts of Friedman and Kitcher. In the second part I discuss several comments and objections to the Schurz-Lambert account that were raised by Weber and van Dyck, Gijsberg and de Regt. In the third and (...)
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  21. Point-Particle Explanations: The Case of Gravitational Waves.Andrew Wayne - 2017 - Synthese:1-21.
    This paper explores the role of physically impossible idealizations in model-based explanation. We do this by examining the explanation of gravitational waves from distant stellar objects using models that contain point-particle idealizations. Like infinite idealizations in thermodynamics, biology and economics, the point-particle idealization in general relativity is physically impossible. What makes this case interesting is that there are two very different kinds of models used for predicting the same gravitational wave phenomena, post-Newtonian models and effective field theory models. The paper (...)
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  22. Extended Mechanistic Explanations: Expanding the Current Mechanistic Conception to Include More Complex Biological Systems.Sarah M. Roe & Bert Baumgaertner - 2017 - Journal for General Philosophy of Science / Zeitschrift für Allgemeine Wissenschaftstheorie 48 (4):517-534.
    Mechanistic accounts of explanation have recently found popularity within philosophy of science. Presently, we introduce the idea of an extended mechanistic explanation, which makes explicit room for the role of environment in explanation. After delineating Craver and Bechtel’s account, we argue this suggestion is not sufficiently robust when we take seriously the mechanistic environment and modeling practices involved in studying contemporary complex biological systems. Our goal is to extend the already profitable mechanistic picture by pointing out the importance of the (...)
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  23. Better Deductive Explanation?I. A. Omer - 1983 - Zeitschrift Für Allgemeine Wissenschaftstheorie 14 (2):350-353.
    I argue that the reasonable quest of looking for, and the desirable end of having better explanation of particular events are not allowed for by the deductive account of explanation except by total replacement of one theory by another. The article is also a trivialization of the deductive conception of complete explanation.
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  24. Unification, the Answer to Resemblance Questions.Erik Weber & Merel Lefevere - 2017 - Synthese 194 (9):3501-3521.
    In the current literature on scientific explanation unification became unfashionable in favour of causal approaches. We want to bring unification back into the picture. In this paper we demonstrate that resemblance questions do occur in scientific practice and that they cannot be properly answered without unification. Our examples show that resemblance questions about particular facts demand what we call causal network unification, while resemblance questions about regularities require what we call mechanism unification. We clarify how these types of unification relate (...)
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  25. What is the Problem of Explanation and Modeling?Raphael van Riel - 2017 - Acta Analytica 32 (3):263-275.
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  26. Difference-Making Grounds.Stephan Krämer & Stefan Roski - 2017 - Philosophical Studies 174 (5):1191-1215.
    We define a notion of difference-making for partial grounds of a fact in rough analogy to existing notions of difference-making for causes of an event. Using orthodox assumptions about ground, we show that it induces a non-trivial division with examples of partial grounds on both sides. We then demonstrate the theoretical fruitfulness of the notion by applying it to the analysis of a certain kind of putative counter-example to the transitivity of ground recently described by Jonathan Schaffer. First, we show (...)
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  27. Idealizations, Essential Self-Adjointness, and Minimal Model Explanation in the Aharonov–Bohm Effect.Shech Elay - 2018 - Synthese 195 (11):4839-4863.
    Two approaches to understanding the idealizations that arise in the Aharonov–Bohm effect are presented. It is argued that a common topological approach, which takes the non-simply connected electron configuration space to be an essential element in the explanation and understanding of the effect, is flawed. An alternative approach is outlined. Consequently, it is shown that the existence and uniqueness of self-adjoint extensions of symmetric operators in quantum mechanics have important implications for philosophical issues. Also, the alleged indispensable explanatory role of (...)
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  28. Critical Citizens or Paranoid Nutcases: On the Epistemology of Conspiracy Theories.Daniel Cohnitz - 2017 - Utrecht: Universiteit Utrecht, Faculteit Geesteswetenschappen.
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  29. Does the Counterfactual Theory of Explanation Apply to Non-Causal Explanations in Metaphysics?Alexander Reutlinger - 2017 - European Journal for Philosophy of Science 7 (2):239-256.
    In the recent philosophy of explanation, a growing attention to and discussion of non-causal explanations has emerged, as there seem to be compelling examples of non-causal explanations in the sciences, in pure mathematics, and in metaphysics. I defend the claim that the counterfactual theory of explanation captures the explanatory character of both non-causal scientific and metaphysical explanations. According to the CTE, scientific and metaphysical explanations are explanatory by virtue of revealing counterfactual dependencies between the explanandum and the explanans. I support (...)
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  30. Is Mathematics a Domain for Philosophers of Explanation?Erik Weber & Joachim Frans - 2017 - Journal for General Philosophy of Science / Zeitschrift für Allgemeine Wissenschaftstheorie 48 (1):125-142.
    In this paper we discuss three interrelated questions. First: is explanation in mathematics a topic that philosophers of mathematics can legitimately investigate? Second: are the specific aims that philosophers of mathematical explanation set themselves legitimate? Finally: are the models of explanation developed by philosophers of science useful tools for philosophers of mathematical explanation? We argue that the answer to all these questions is positive. Our views are completely opposite to the views that Mark Zelcer has put forward recently. Throughout this (...)
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  31. Do Renormalization Group Explanations Conform to the Commonality Strategy?Alexander Reutlinger - 2017 - Journal for General Philosophy of Science / Zeitschrift für Allgemeine Wissenschaftstheorie 48 (1):143-150.
    Renormalization group explanations account for the astonishing phenomenon that microscopically very different physical systems display the same macro-behavior when undergoing phase-transitions. Among philosophers, this explanandum phenomenon is often described as the occurrence of a particular kind of multiply realized macro-behavior. In several recent publications, Robert Batterman denies that RG explanations account for this explanandum phenomenon by following the commonality strategy, i.e. by identifying properties that microscopically very different physical systems have in common. Arguing against Batterman’s claim, I defend the view (...)
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  32. The Causal Metaphor Account of Metaphysical Explanation.Jonathan Shaheen - 2017 - Philosophical Studies 174 (3):553-578.
    This paper argues that the semantic facts about ‘because’ are best explained via a metaphorical treatment of metaphysical explanation that treats causal explanation as explanation par excellence. Along the way, it defends a commitment to a unified causal sense of ‘because’ and offers a proprietary explanation of grounding skepticism. With the causal metaphor account of metaphysical explanation on the table, an extended discussion of the relationship between conceptual structure and metaphysics ends with a suggestion that the semantic facts about ‘because’ (...)
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  33. Unificatory Explanation.Marco J. Nathan - 2017 - British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 68 (1).
    Philosophers have traditionally addressed the issue of scientific unification in terms of theoretical reduction. Reductive models, however, cannot explain the occurrence of unification in areas of science where successful reductions are hard to find. The goal of this essay is to analyse a concrete example of integration in biology—the developmental synthesis—and to generalize it into a model of scientific unification, according to which two fields are in the process of being unified when they become explanatorily relevant to each other. I (...)
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  34. Ockam's Razor and the Unification of Physical Science.Reginald O. Kapp - 1957 - British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 8 (29):265.
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  35. The Full Hempel. [REVIEW]Paul A. Roth - 1999 - History and Theory 38 (2):249-263.
    Book reviewed in this article: The Logic of Historical Explanation by Clayton Roberts.
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  36. The Goal of Explanation.Stephen R. Grimm - 2010 - Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part A 41 (4):337-344.
    I defend the claim that understanding is the goal of explanation against various persistent criticisms, especially the criticism that understanding is not truth-connected in the appropriate way, and hence is a merely psychological state. Part of the reason why understanding has been dismissed as the goal of explanation, I suggest, is because the psychological dimension of the goal of explanation has itself been almost entirely neglected. In turn, the psychological dimension of understanding—the Aha! experience, the sense that a certain explanation (...)
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  37. Explanation in Physics: Explanation in Physical Theory: Peter Clark.Peter Clark - 1990 - Royal Institute of Philosophy Supplement 27:155-175.
    The corpus of physical theory is a paradigm of knowledge. The evolution of modern physical theory constitutes the clearest exemplar of the growth of knowledge. If the development of physical theory does not constitute an example of progress and growth in what we know about the Universe nothing does. So anyone interested in the theory of knowledge must be interested consequently in the evolution and content of physical theory. Crucial to the conception of physics as a paradigm of knowledge is (...)
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  38. Philosophy and Experimental Physics.Karl Herzfeld - 1952 - Proceedings and Addresses of the American Philosophical Association 26:54.
  39. Metaphysical Explanation: An Introduction.Kenneth Barber - 1975 - Metaphilosophy 6:259.
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  40. Regularities and Causality; Generalizations and Causal Explanations.Jim Bogen - 2005 - Studies in History and Philosophy of Biological and Biomedical Sciences 36 (2):397-420.
    Machamer, Darden, and Craver argue that causal explanations explain effects by describing the operations of the mechanisms which produce them. One of this paper’s aims is to take advantage of neglected resources of Mechanism to rethink the traditional idea that actual or counterfactual natural regularities are essential to the distinction between causal and non-causal co-occurrences, and that generalizations describing natural regularities are essential components of causal explanations. I think that causal productivity and regularity are by no means the same thing, (...)
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  41. Causal Factors, Causal Inference, Causal Explanation.Elliott Sober & David Papineau - 1986 - Proceedings of the Aristotelian Society, Supplementary Volumes( 60:97-136.
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  42. Discussion: A Corrected Model of Explanation.Robert Ackermann - 1966 - Philosophy of Science 33 (1/2):168.
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  43. Critical Notice of Scientific Explanation by Philip Kitcher and Wesley C. Salmon; and of Four Decades of Scientific Explanation by Wesley C. Salmon. [REVIEW]James H. Fetzer - 1991 - Philosophy of Science 58 (2):288-306.
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  44. Aspects of Scientific Explanation and Other Essays in the Philosophy of Science. Carl G. Hempel.Henry Veatch - 1970 - Philosophy of Science 37 (2):312-314.
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  45. Explanatory Structures: A Study of Concepts of Explanation in Early Physics and Philosophy.James G. Lennox - 1979 - Philosophy of Science 46 (4):652-654.
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  46. Scientific Explanation and the Causal Structure of the World. Wesley Salmon.James H. Fetzer - 1987 - Philosophy of Science 54 (4):597-610.
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  47. Causality and Scientific Explanation. Volume I. Medieval and Early Classical Science. William A. Wallace.Lee C. Rice - 1973 - Philosophy of Science 40 (2):321-322.
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  48. Review of Causality and Explanation by Wesley C. Salmon. [REVIEW]Ned Hall - 1999 - Philosophy of Science 66 (3):497-498.
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  49. Scientific Explanation: Causation and Unification.Wesley C. Salmon - 1990 - Critica 22 (66):3-23.
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  50. Sobre causación y unificación según Wesley Salmón.León Olivé - 1990 - Critica 22 (66):115-129.
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