Coincidences and the Grain of Explanation


I give an account of what makes an event a coincidence. I start by critically discussing a couple of other approaches to the notion of coincidence -- particularly that of Lando (2017) -- before developing my own view. The central idea of my view is that the correct understanding of coincidences is closely related to our understanding of the correct 'level' or 'grain' of explanation. Coincidences have a kind of explanatory deficiency — if they did not have this deficiency they would not be coincidences. This deficiency, I claim, is the same explanatory deficiency as when we give low-level explanations of special science phenomena. Such explanations are typically too specific and not robust enough. I claim that there is this same badness in purported explanations of coincidences. I cash out this idea sketching an account of explanatory goodness — an account of what makes explanations better or worse -- and using that to give a more precise account of coincidences.

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Harjit Bhogal
University of Maryland, College Park

Citations of this work

Induction and the Glue of the World.Harjit Bhogal - 2021 - Australasian Journal of Philosophy 99 (2):319-333.
Coincidence Avoidance and Formulating the Access Problem.Sharon E. Berry - 2020 - Canadian Journal of Philosophy 50 (6):687-701.
What's the Coincidence in Debunking?Harjit Bhogal - forthcoming - Philosophy and Phenomenological Research.
Calling for Explanation.Dan Baras - 2022 - Oxford University Press.

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