Philosophy of Science 74 (4):481-500 (2007)

Victor Gijsbers
Leiden University
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.
Keywords Philosophy of Science   Explanation
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DOI 10.1086/524420
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References found in this work BETA

Studies in the Logic of Explanation.Carl Gustav Hempel & Paul Oppenheim - 1948 - Philosophy of Science 15 (2):135-175.
Explanation and Scientific Understanding.Michael Friedman - 1974 - Journal of Philosophy 71 (1):5-19.
Explanatory Unification.Philip Kitcher - 1981 - Philosophy of Science 48 (4):507-531.
Laws of Nature.Fred I. Dretske - 1977 - Philosophy of Science 44 (2):248-268.

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Citations of this work BETA

Scientific Progress: Knowledge Versus Understanding.Finnur Dellsén - 2016 - Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part A 56:72-83.
Explanation and Explanationism in Science and Metaphysics.Juha Saatsi - forthcoming - In Matthew Slater & Zanja Yudell (eds.), Metaphysics and the Philosophy of Science: New Essays. Oxford University Press.
Understanding, Explanation, and Unification.Victor Gijsbers - 2013 - Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part A 44 (3):516-522.

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