When Do Scientific Explanations Compete? Steps Toward a Heuristic Checklist

Metaphilosophy 48 (1-2):96-122 (2017)

Abstract

It's not uncommon for scientists to give different explanations of the same phenomenon, but we currently lack clear guidelines for deciding whether to treat such accounts as competitors. This article discusses how science studies can help create tools and guidelines for thinking about whether explanations compete. It also specifies how one family of discourse rules enables there to be differing accounts that appear to compete but don't. One hopes that being more aware of the linguistic mechanisms making compatible accounts appear to compete will prevent people from wasting resources trying to show which account is right.

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Todd Jones
University of Nevada, Las Vegas

References found in this work

Mental Causation.Stephen Yablo - 1992 - Philosophical Review 101 (2):245-280.
Explanation and Scientific Understanding.Michael Friedman - 1974 - Journal of Philosophy 71 (1):5-19.
Verbal Disputes.David J. Chalmers - 2011 - Philosophical Review 120 (4):515-566.
Four Decades of Scientific Explanation.Wesley C. Salmon & Anne Fagot-Largeault - 1989 - History and Philosophy of the Life Sciences 16 (2):355.

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