Are Identities Unexplainable? Towards a Non‐causal Contrastive Explanation of Identities

Theoria 87 (2):457-482 (2021)

Abstract

Can an identity be the proper subject of an explanation? A popular stance, albeit not one often argued for, gives a negative answer to this question. Building from a contentious passage from Jaegwon Kim in this direction, we reconstruct an argument to the conclusion that identities, to the extent in which they are necessary, cannot be explained. The notion of contrastive explanation, characterized as difference-seeking, will be crucial for this argument; however, we will eventually find the argument to be unsatisfactory. On the contrary, the discussion provides enough resource to sketch a very simple framework for a non-causal contrastive explanation of identities. Many instances will be provided, with different varieties of explanans, ultimately suggesting that certain entailment or biconditional principles involving identities (first and foremost, so-called two-level identity criteria) may indeed be taken to have an inherent explanatory value.

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Author Profiles

Massimiliano Carrara
University of Padua
Lorenzo Azzano
Universidade de Santiago de Compostela

References found in this work

On What Grounds What.Jonathan Schaffer - 2009 - In David Manley, David J. Chalmers & Ryan Wasserman (eds.), Metametaphysics: New Essays on the Foundations of Ontology. Oxford University Press. pp. 347-383.
Grounding in the Image of Causation.Jonathan Schaffer - 2016 - Philosophical Studies 173 (1):49-100.
On the Plurality of Worlds.David K. Lewis - 1986 - Revue Philosophique de la France Et de l'Etranger 178 (3):388-390.
The Logical Form of Action Sentences.Donald Davidson - 1967 - In Nicholas Rescher (ed.), The Logic of Decision and Action. University of Pittsburgh Press. pp. 81--95.

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Citations of this work

The Grounding of Identities.Lorenzo Azzano & Massimiliano Carrara - 2021 - Philosophia 49 (5):1943-1952.

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