Degree of explanation

Synthese 190 (15):3087-3105 (2012)
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Abstract

Partial explanations are everywhere. That is, explanations citing causes that explain some but not all of an effect are ubiquitous across science, and these in turn rely on the notion of degree of explanation. I argue that current accounts are seriously deficient. In particular, they do not incorporate adequately the way in which a cause’s explanatory importance varies with choice of explanandum. Using influential recent contrastive theories, I develop quantitative definitions that remedy this lacuna, and relate it to existing measures of degree of causation. Among other things, this reveals the precise role here of chance, as well as bearing on the relation between causal explanation and causation itself

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2012-05-21

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Robert Northcott
Birkbeck, University of London

Citations of this work

Causation comes in degrees.Huzeyfe Demirtas - 2022 - Synthese 200 (1):1-17.
Defining Explanation and Explanatory Depth in XAI.Stefan Buijsman - 2022 - Minds and Machines 32 (3):563-584.
Causal Contribution.Alex Kaiserman - 2016 - Proceedings of the Aristotelian Society 116 (3):387-394.
Reflexivity and fragility.Robert Northcott - 2022 - European Journal for Philosophy of Science 12 (3):1-14.

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References found in this work

Causality: Models, Reasoning and Inference.Judea Pearl - 2000 - New York: Cambridge University Press.
The scientific image.C. Van Fraassen Bas - 1980 - New York: Oxford University Press.
The Scientific Image.William Demopoulos & Bas C. van Fraassen - 1982 - Philosophical Review 91 (4):603.
Causality.Judea Pearl - 2000 - New York: Cambridge University Press.

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