Explanatory unification and the problem of asymmetry

Philosophy of Science 59 (4):558-571 (1992)
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Abstract

Philip Kitcher has proposed a theory of explanation based on the notion of unification. Despite the genuine interest and power of the theory, I argue here that the theory suffers from a fatal deficiency: It is intrinsically unable to account for the asymmetric structure of explanation, and thus ultimately falls prey to a problem similar to the one which beset Hempel's D-N model. I conclude that Kitcher is wrong to claim that one can settle the issue of an argument's explanatory force merely on the basis of considerations about the unifying power of the argument pattern the argument instantiates

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Eric Barnes
Southern Methodist University

Citations of this work

Inference to the Best explanation.Peter Lipton - 2004 - In Martin Curd & Stathis Psillos (eds.), The Routledge Companion to Philosophy of Science. Routledge. pp. 193.
A Puzzle About 'because'.Benjamin Schnieder - 2010 - Logique Et Analyse 53.
Understanding, explanation, and unification.Victor Gijsbers - 2013 - Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part A 44 (3):516-522.
A unificationist defence of revealed preferences.Kate Vredenburgh - 2020 - Economics and Philosophy 36 (1):149-169.

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References found in this work

Explanation and scientific understanding.Michael Friedman - 1974 - Journal of Philosophy 71 (1):5-19.
Explanatory unification.Philip Kitcher - 1981 - Philosophy of Science 48 (4):507-531.

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