Erkenntnis 83 (6):1213-1227 (2018)

Victor Gijsbers
Leiden University
Two apparently mutually exclusive ideas about the relation between contrastive and non-contrastive explanations can be found in the literature. According to contrastivists, all explanation is contrastive explanation and the supposed existence of non-contrastive explanations can be revealed to be an illusion. According to non-contrastivists, on the other hand, contrastive explanation can be fully analysed in terms of non-contrastive explanation, and is thus not of fundamental importance. In the current article, I discuss the main arguments in favour of and against each of the two positions. This discussion leads to the idea that contrastive explanations are to be understood as parts of a bigger, more complete non-contrastive explanation; but that all actual explanations explain only a limited set of contrasts. I conclude that, once the relation between contrastive and non-contrastive explanations is understood correctly, there remains no substantial issue to divide contrastivism and non-contrastivism.
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DOI 10.1007/s10670-017-9937-8
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References found in this work BETA

Causal Explanation.David Lewis - 1986 - In Philosophical Papers Vol. Ii. Oxford University Press. pp. 214-240.
Contrastive Causation.Jonathan Schaffer - 2005 - Philosophical Review 114 (3):327-358.

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