Collaborative explanation, explanatory roles, and scientific explaining in practice

Authors
Alan Love
University of Minnesota
Abstract
Scientific explanation is a perennial topic in philosophy of science, but the literature has fragmented into specialized discussions in different scientific disciplines. An increasing attention to scientific practice by philosophers is (in part) responsible for this fragmentation and has put pressure on criteria of adequacy for philosophical accounts of explanation, usually demanding some form of pluralism. This commentary examines the arguments offered by Fagan and Woody with respect to explanation and understanding in scientific practice. I begin by scrutinizing Fagan's concept of collaborative explanation, highlighting its distinctive advantages and expressing concern about several of its assumptions. Then I analyze Woody's attempt to reorient discussions of scientific explanation around functional considerations, elaborating on the wider implications of this methodological recommendation. I conclude with reflections on synergies and tensions that emerge when the two papers are juxtaposed and how these draw attention to critical issues that confront ongoing philosophical analyses of scientific explanation.
Keywords Constitution  Explanation  Functional Analysis  Mechanisms  Scientific practice
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DOI 10.1016/j.shpsa.2015.03.003
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References found in this work BETA

Abstraction and the Organization of Mechanisms.Arnon Levy & William Bechtel - 2013 - Philosophy of Science 80 (2):241-261.
Causes That Make a Difference.C. Kenneth Waters - 2007 - Journal of Philosophy 104 (11):551-579.
Mechanism and Biological Explanation.William Bechtel - 2011 - Philosophy of Science 78 (4):533-557.
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