Expressivism about explanatory relevance

Philosophical Studies:1-27 (forthcoming)
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Accounts of scientific explanation disagree about what’s required for a cause, law, or other fact to be a reason why an event occurs. In short, they disagree about the conditions for explanatory relevance. Nonetheless, most accounts presuppose that claims about explanatory relevance play a descriptive role in tracking reality. By rejecting the need for this descriptivist assumption, I develop an expressivist account of explanatory relevance and explanation: to judge that an answer is explanatory is to express an attitude of being for being satisfied by that answer. I show how expressivism vindicates ordinary scientific discourse about explanation, including claims about the objectivity and mind-independence of explanations. By avoiding commitment to ontic relevance relations, I rehabilitate an irrealist conception of explanation.

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Josh Hunt
University of Michigan, Ann Arbor

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References found in this work

Writing the Book of the World.Theodore Sider - 2011 - Oxford, England: Oxford University Press.
The Scientific Image.William Demopoulos & Bas C. van Fraassen - 1982 - Philosophical Review 91 (4):603.
Idealization and the Aims of Science.Angela Potochnik - 2017 - Chicago: University of Chicago Press.

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