Breaking the explanatory circle

Philosophical Studies 178 (2):533-557 (2021)
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Humeans are often accused of positing laws which fail to explain or are involved in explanatory circularity. Here, I will argue that these arguments are confused, but not because of anything to do with Humeanism: rather, they rest on false assumptions about causal explanation. I’ll show how these arguments can be neatly sidestepped if one takes on two plausible commitments which are motivated independently of Humeanism: first, that laws don’t directly feature in scientific explanation and second, the view that explanation is contrastive. After outlining and motivating these views, I show how they bear on explanation-based arguments against Humeanism.



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Michael Townsen Hicks
University of Birmingham

Citations of this work

Nomothetic Explanation and Humeanism About Laws of Nature.Harjit Bhogal - 2020 - In Karen Bennett & Dean W. Zimmerman (eds.), Oxford Studies in Metaphysics, volume 12. Oxford: Oxford University Press. pp. 164–202.
Humeanism About Laws of Nature.Harjit Bhogal - 2020 - Philosophy Compass 15 (8):1-10.
Lawful Persistence.David Builes & Trevor Teitel - forthcoming - Philosophical Perspectives.

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References found in this work

New Work for a Theory of Universals.David K. Lewis - 1983 - Australasian Journal of Philosophy 61 (4):343-377.
Guide to Ground.Kit Fine - 2012 - In Fabrice Correia & Benjamin Schnieder (eds.), Metaphysical Grounding. Cambridge University Press. pp. 37--80.
The Metaphysics Within Physics.Tim Maudlin - 2007 - Oxford University Press.

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