The Monist 99 (3):260-279 (2016)

Authors
Alisa Bokulich
Boston University
Abstract
Despite widespread evidence that fictional models play an explanatory role in science, resistance remains to the idea that fictions can explain. A central source of this resistance is a particular view about what explanations are, namely, the ontic conception of explanation. According to the ontic conception, explanations just are the concrete entities in the world. I argue this conception is ultimately incoherent and that even a weaker version of the ontic conception fails. Fictional models can succeed in offering genuine explanations by correctly capturing relevant patterns of counterfactual dependence and licensing correct inferences. Using the example of Newtonian force explanations of the tides, I show how, even in science, fiction can be a vehicle for truth.
Keywords explanation  fictions  models
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DOI 10.1093/monist/onw004
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References found in this work BETA

Explanation: A Mechanist Alternative.William Bechtel & Adele Abrahamsen - 2005 - Studies in History and Philosophy of Biological and Biomedical Sciences 36 (2):421-441.

View all 28 references / Add more references

Citations of this work BETA

Idealizations and Understanding: Much Ado About Nothing?Emily Sullivan & Kareem Khalifa - 2019 - Australasian Journal of Philosophy 97 (4):673-689.
Viewing-as Explanations and Ontic Dependence.William D’Alessandro - 2020 - Philosophical Studies 177 (3):769-792.
Data models, representation and adequacy-for-purpose.Alisa Bokulich & Wendy Parker - 2021 - European Journal for Philosophy of Science 11 (1):1-26.

View all 30 citations / Add more citations

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