The Explanatory Link Account of Normality

Philosophy 94 (4):597-619 (2019)
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Few have given an extended treatment of the non-statistical sense of normality: a sense captured in sentences like “dogs have four legs,” or “hammers normally have metal heads,” or “it is normal for badgers to take dust baths.” The most direct extant treatment is Bernhard Nickel’s Between Logic and the World, where he claims that the normal or characteristic for a kind is what we can explain by appeal to the right sorts of explanations. Just which explanatory strategies can ground normalities, though, is difficult to determine without inviting circularity into the account. After raising this and other worries for Nickel’s account, I develop my own account according to which normal features are those which are explained by the kind of thing involved.

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Andrew Lavin
California State University, Chico

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