Explanation and understanding

Abstract
Michael Strevens offers an account of causal explanation according to which explanatory practice is shaped by counterbalanced commitments to representing causal influence and abstracting away from overly specific details. In this paper, I challenge a key feature of that account. I argue that what Strevens calls explanatory frameworks figure prominently in explanatory practice because they actually improve explanations. This suggestion is simple but has far-reaching implications. It affects the status of explanations that cite multiply realizable properties; changes the explanatory role of causal factors with small effect; and undermines Strevens’ titular explanatory virtue, depth. This results in greater coherence with explanatory practice and accords with the emphasis that Strevens places on explanatory patterns. Ultimately, my suggestion preserves a tight connection between explanation and the creation of understanding by taking into account explanations’ role in communication
Keywords Causal explanation  Kairetic account  Multiple realizability  Causal patterns  Communication
Categories (categorize this paper)
DOI 10.1007/s13194-010-0002-6
Options
 Save to my reading list
Follow the author(s)
Edit this record
My bibliography
Export citation
Find it on Scholar
Mark as duplicate
Request removal from index
Revision history
Download options
Our Archive
Through your library
References found in this work BETA
Causation.David Lewis - 1973 - Journal of Philosophy 70 (17):556-567.
Physical Causation.Phil Dowe - 2000 - Cambridge University Press.
Special Sciences.Jerry A. Fodor - 1974 - Synthese 28 (2):97-115.

View all 17 references / Add more references

Citations of this work BETA
The Diverse Aims of Science.Angela Potochnik - 2015 - Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part A 53:71-80.
Causal Patterns and Adequate Explanations.Angela Potochnik - 2015 - Philosophical Studies 172 (5):1163-1182.
Proportionality, Contrast and Explanation.Brad Weslake - 2013 - Australasian Journal of Philosophy 91 (4):785-797.

Add more citations

Similar books and articles
The Role of Explanation in Understanding.K. Khalifa - 2013 - British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 64 (1):161-187.
Scientific Explanation and the Sense of Understanding.J. D. Trout - 2002 - Philosophy of Science 69 (2):212-233.
No Understanding Without Explanation.Michael Strevens - 2013 - Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part A 44 (3):510-515.
Understanding, Knowledge, and Scientific Antirealism.Kareem Khalifa - 2011 - Grazer Philosophische Studien 83 (1):93-112.
More on Understanding in the Social Sciences.Frank Cunningham - 1967 - Inquiry : An Interdisciplinary Journal of Philosophy 10 (1-4):321-326.
The Psychology of Scientific Explanation.J. D. Trout - 2007 - Philosophy Compass 2 (3):564–591.
A New Dialectical Theory of Explanation.Douglas Walton - 2004 - Philosophical Explorations 7 (1):71 – 89.
What Good Is an Explanation?Peter Lipton - 2001 - In G. Hon & S. Rakover (eds.), Explanation. Springer Verlag. pp. 43-59.
Discussion Note: Making Sense of Understanding.Henk W. de Regt - 2004 - Philosophy of Science 71 (1):98-109.
Levels of Explanation Reconceived.Angela Potochnik - 2010 - Philosophy of Science 77 (1):59-72.
Added to PP index
2010-11-18

Total downloads
558 ( #3,810 of 2,231,886 )

Recent downloads (6 months)
39 ( #10,111 of 2,231,886 )

How can I increase my downloads?

Monthly downloads
My notes
Sign in to use this feature