Are statistical explanations possible?

Philosophy of Science 43 (1):129-146 (1976)
The intuitive notion of a statistical explanation has been explicated in different ways; recently it has even been claimed that there are no statistical explanations at all. In an attempt to clarify the disputed issue, the approaches adopted by Hempel, by Jeffrey, Salmon and Greeno, and by Stegmuller are analyzed critically, as far as they are concerned with the explanation of particular events. A solution of the controversy is proposed on the basis of a concept of explanation which refers essentially to a causal analysis of the explanandum. The possibility of statistical explanations, then, becomes contingent upon the existence of indeterministic causation. In conclusion, therefore, a conception of causality is sketched which shows that indeterminism and causal connection are compatible, at least from an epistemological point of view, so that statistical explanation can be seen to represent a specific and possibly irreducible scientific activity
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DOI 10.1086/288673
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