Abstract versus Causal Explanations?


Authors
Holly Andersen
Simon Fraser University
Alexander Reutlinger
Ludwig Maximilians Universität, München
Abstract
In the recent literature on causal and non-causal scientific explanations, there is an intuitive assumption according to which an explanation is non-causal by virtue of being abstract. In this context, to be ‘abstract’ means that the explanans in question leaves out many or almost all causal microphysical details of the target system. After motivating this assumption, we argue that the abstractness assumption, in placing the abstract and the causal character of an explanation in tension, is misguided in ways that are independent of which view of causation or causal explanation one takes to be most accurate. On major accounts of causation, as well as on major accounts of causal explanation, the abstractness of an explanation is not sufficient for it being non-causal. That is, explanations are not non-causal by dint of being abstract.
Keywords explanation  abstraction  non-causal explanation  causal explanation  causation
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Reprint years 2017
DOI 10.1080/02698595.2016.1265867
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References found in this work BETA

Explaining the Brain.Carl F. Craver - 2009 - Oxford University Press.
Causality.Judea Pearl - 2009 - Cambridge University Press.
How the Laws of Physics Lie.Nancy Cartwright - 1983 - Oxford University Press.

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Citations of this work BETA

Understanding Toy Models.Alexander Reutlinger, Dominik Hangleiter & Stephan Hartmann - 2018 - British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 69 (4):1069-1099.
Understanding (With) Toy Models.Alexander Reutlinger, Dominik Hangleiter & Stephan Hartmann - 2016 - British Journal for the Philosophy of Science:axx005.

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