Philosophical Studies 177 (3):769-792 (2020)

William D'Alessandro
Ludwig Maximilians Universität, München
According to a widespread view in metaphysics and philosophy of science, all explanations involve relations of ontic dependence between the items appearing in the explanandum and the items appearing in the explanans. I argue that a family of mathematical cases, which I call “viewing-as explanations”, are incompatible with the Dependence Thesis. These cases, I claim, feature genuine explanations that aren’t supported by ontic dependence relations. Hence the thesis isn’t true in general. The first part of the paper defends this claim and discusses its significance. The second part of the paper considers whether viewing-as explanations occur in the empirical sciences, focusing on the case of so-called fictional models. It’s sometimes suggested that fictional models can be explanatory even though they fail to represent actual worldly dependence relations. Whether or not such models explain, I suggest, depends on whether we think scientific explanations necessarily give information relevant to intervention and control. Finally, I argue that counterfactual approaches to explanation also have trouble accommodating viewing-as cases.
Keywords explanation  mathematical explanation  explanatory proof  metaphysical explanation  ontic conception  dependence  grounding  model explanation  mathematical practice  seeing-as
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DOI 10.1007/s11098-018-1205-5
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References found in this work BETA

Making Things Up.Karen Bennett - 2017 - Oxford University Press.
Grounding in the Image of Causation.Jonathan Schaffer - 2016 - Philosophical Studies 173 (1):49-100.
Causation.David Lewis - 1973 - Journal of Philosophy 70 (17):556-567.

View all 70 references / Add more references

Citations of this work BETA

There Are No Mathematical Explanations.Jaakko Kuorikoski - 2021 - Philosophy of Science 88 (2):189-212.
Explanatory Priority Monism.Isaac Wilhelm - 2021 - Philosophical Studies 178 (4):1339-1359.
In Defence of Explanatory Realism.Stefan Roski - 2021 - Synthese 199 (5-6):14121-14141.

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