Distinguishing Explanatory from Nonexplanatory Fictions

Philosophy of Science 79 (5):725-737 (2012)
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Abstract

There is a growing recognition that fictions have a number of legitimate functions in science, even when it comes to scientific explanation. However, the question then arises, what distinguishes an explanatory fiction from a nonexplanatory one? Here I examine two cases—one in which there is a consensus in the scientific community that the fiction is explanatory and another in which the fiction is not explanatory. I shall show how my account of “model explanations” is able to explain this asymmetry, and argue that realism—of a more subtle form—does have a role in distinguishing explanatory from non- explanatory fictions.

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Alisa Bokulich
Boston University

References found in this work

Explanatory unification.Philip Kitcher - 1981 - Philosophy of Science 48 (4):507-531.
How scientific models can explain.Alisa Bokulich - 2011 - Synthese 180 (1):33 - 45.
Can classical structures explain quantum phenomena?Alisa Bokulich - 2008 - British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 59 (2):217-235.
Book Review. [REVIEW]Gordon Belot & Lina Jansson - 2010 - Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part B: Studies in History and Philosophy of Modern Physics 41 (1):81-83.

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