On Some Non-trivial Implications of the View that Good Explanations Increase Our Understanding of Explained Phenomena

Balkan Journal of Philosophy 9 (1):45-52 (2017)

Lilia Gurova
New Bulgarian University
The central argument in this paper is the following: if we agree that one of the aims of explanation is to provide or increase understanding, and if we assess understanding on the basis of the inferences one can draw from the knowledge of the phenomenon which is understood, then the value of an explanation, i.e. its capacity to provide or increase understanding of the explained phenomenon, should be assessed on the basis of the extra-inferences which this explanation allows for. The extra-inferences which a given explanation allows for constitute its inferential content. The analysis of the explanation’s inferential content could be applied to all kinds of explanations with the aim of assessing their goodness. I show how such an analysis helps us to better understand a number of difficulties that have puzzled contemporary philosophers of explanation: the flagpole counterexample to the deductive-nomological model of explanation, the conjunction problem, the difference between good and bad circular explanations.
Keywords explanation  explanation and understanding  explanation, inferential account
Categories (categorize this paper)
ISBN(s) 1313-888X
DOI 10.5840/bjp2017914
Edit this record
Mark as duplicate
Export citation
Find it on Scholar
Request removal from index
Revision history

Download options

Our Archive

Upload a copy of this paper     Check publisher's policy     Papers currently archived: 46,355
External links

Setup an account with your affiliations in order to access resources via your University's proxy server
Configure custom proxy (use this if your affiliation does not provide a proxy)
Through your library

References found in this work BETA

No references found.

Add more references

Citations of this work BETA

No citations found.

Add more citations

Similar books and articles

What Good Is an Explanation?Peter Lipton - 2001 - In G. Hon & S. Rakover (eds.), Explanation. Springer Verlag. pp. 43-59.
Contrastive Explanation.Peter Lipton - 1990 - Royal Institute of Philosophy Supplement 27:247-266.
No Understanding Without Explanation.Michael Strevens - 2013 - Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part A 44 (3):510-515.
A Defense of a Unificationist Theory of Explanation.Rebecca Schweder - 2005 - Foundations of Science 10 (4):421-435.
Understanding, Explanation, and Scientific Knowledge.Kareem Khalifa - 2017 - Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press.
The Role of Explanation in Understanding.K. Khalifa - 2013 - British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 64 (1):161-187.
The Nature of Dynamical Explanation.Carlos Zednik - 2011 - Philosophy of Science 78 (2):238-263.
Causal Patterns and Adequate Explanations.Angela Potochnik - 2015 - Philosophical Studies 172 (5):1163-1182.
On the Confirmation of Explanation in History.David Stern Levin - 1980 - Dissertation, Cornell University
The Psychology of Scientific Explanation.J. D. Trout - 2007 - Philosophy Compass 2 (3):564–591.


Added to PP index

Total views
8 ( #876,160 of 2,286,113 )

Recent downloads (6 months)
1 ( #838,750 of 2,286,113 )

How can I increase my downloads?


My notes

Sign in to use this feature