Erkenntnis 37 (2):151 - 178 (1992)

Authors
Christopher Hitchcock
California Institute of Technology
Abstract
It is widely believed that many of the competing accounts of scientific explanation have ramifications which are relevant to the scientific realism debate. I claim that the two issues are orthogonal. For definiteness, I consider Cartwright's argument that causal explanations secure belief in theoretical entities. In Section I, van Fraassen's anti-realism is reviewed; I argue that this anti-realism is, prima facie, consistent with a causal account of explanation. Section II reviews Cartwright's arguments. In Section III, it is argued that causal explanations do not license the sort of inferences to theoretical entities that would embarass the anti-realist. Section IV examines the epistemic commitments involved in accepting a causal explanation. Section V presents my conclusions: contra Cartwright, the anti-realist may incorporate a causal account of explanation into his vision of science in an entirely natural way
Keywords Explanation   Philosophy of Science   Realism
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DOI 10.1007/BF00209320
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References found in this work BETA

How the Laws of Physics Lie.Nancy Cartwright - 1983 - Oxford University Press.
Laws and Symmetry.Bas C. van Fraassen - 1989 - Oxford University Press.
The Scientific Image.William Demopoulos & Bas C. van Fraassen - 1982 - Philosophical Review 91 (4):603.

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Citations of this work BETA

Robust Realism for the Life Sciences.Markus Eronen - 2019 - Synthese 196 (6):2341-2354.
Causal Warrant for Realism About Particle Physics.Matthias Egg - 2012 - Journal for General Philosophy of Science / Zeitschrift für Allgemeine Wissenschaftstheorie 43 (2):259-280.
Models, Mechanisms, and Coherence.Matteo Colombo, Stephan Hartmann & Robert van Iersel - 2015 - British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 66 (1):181-212.

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