Why unification is neither necessary nor sufficient for explanation

Philosophy of Science 74 (4):481-500 (2007)
In this paper, I argue that unification is neither necessary nor sufficient for explanation. Focusing on the versions of the unificationist theory of explanation of Kitcher and of Schurz and Lambert, I establish three theses. First, Kitcher’s criterion of unification is vitiated by the fact that it entails that every proposition can be explained by itself, a flaw that it is unable to overcome. Second, because neither Kitcher’s theory nor that of Schurz and Lambert can solve the problems of asymmetry and accidental generalizations, it follows that unification is not sufficient to ground explanation. Third, some good explanations are disunifying, which entails that unification is not necessary for explanation either.
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DOI 10.1086/524420
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References found in this work BETA
Philip Kitcher (1981). Explanatory Unification. Philosophy of Science 48 (4):507-531.
Fred I. Dretske (1977). Laws of Nature. Philosophy of Science 44 (2):248-268.

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Citations of this work BETA
Finnur Dellsén (2016). Scientific Progress: Knowledge Versus Understanding. Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part A 56:72-83.
Victor Gijsbers (2013). Understanding, Explanation, and Unification. Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part A 44 (3):516-522.
Henk W. de Regt (2013). Understanding and Explanation: Living Apart Together? Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part A 44 (3):505-509.

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