Metaphysical Explanation: The Kitcher Picture

Erkenntnis 86 (1):187-207 (2021)
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Abstract

This paper offers a new account of metaphysical explanation. The account is modelled on Kitcher’s unificationist approach to scientific explanation. We begin, in Sect. 2, by briefly introducing the notion of metaphysical explanation and outlining the target of analysis. After that, we introduce a unificationist account of metaphysical explanation before arguing that such an account is capable of capturing four core features of metaphysical explanations: irreflexivity, non-monotonicity, asymmetry and relevance. Since the unificationist theory of metaphysical explanation inherits irreflexivity and non-monotonicity directly from the unificationist theory of scientific explanation that underwrites it, we focus on demonstrating how the account can secure asymmetry and relevance.

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Author Profiles

Sam Baron
University of Melbourne
James Norton
University of Tasmania

Citations of this work

Whewell’s hylomorphism as a metaphorical explanation for how mind and world merge.Ragnar van der Merwe - 2023 - Journal for General Philosophy of Science / Zeitschrift für Allgemeine Wissenschaftstheorie 54 (1):19-38.
Varieties of Grounding Skepticism.David Mark Kovacs - 2023 - The Monist 106 (3):301-316.
Fundamentality and minimalist grounding laws.Joaquim Giannotti - 2022 - Philosophical Studies 179 (9):2993-3017.
Grounding Functionalism and Explanatory Unificationism.Alexios Stamatiadis-bréhier - 2023 - Journal of the American Philosophical Association 9 (4):799-819.

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References found in this work

Depth: An Account of Scientific Explanation.Michael Strevens - 2008 - Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press.
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.
No Work for a Theory of Grounding.Jessica M. Wilson - 2014 - Inquiry: An Interdisciplinary Journal of Philosophy 57 (5-6):535-579.
Grounding in the image of causation.Jonathan Schaffer - 2016 - Philosophical Studies 173 (1):49-100.
Guide to Ground.Kit Fine - 2012 - In Fabrice Correia & Benjamin Schnieder (eds.), Metaphysical Grounding. Cambridge University Press. pp. 37--80.

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