Authors
Mark Povich
University of Rochester
Abstract
Lange argues that some natural phenomena can be explained by appeal to mathematical, rather than natural, facts. In these “distinctively mathematical” explanations, the core explanatory facts are either modally stronger than facts about ordinary causal law or understood to be constitutive of the physical task or arrangement at issue. Craver and Povich argue that Lange’s account of DME fails to exclude certain “reversals”. Lange has replied that his account can avoid these directionality charges. Specifically, Lange argues that in legitimate DMEs, but not in their “reversals,” the empirical fact appealed to in the explanation is “understood to be constitutive of the physical task or arrangement at issue” in the explanandum. I argue that Lange’s reply is unsatisfactory because it leaves the crucial notion of being “understood to be constitutive of the physical task or arrangement” obscure in ways that fail to block “reversals” except by an apparent ad hoc stipulation or by abandoning the reliance on understanding and instead accepting a strong realism about essence.
Keywords mathematical explanation  philosophy of science  directionality  explanatory asymmetry  modal conception  ontic conception  counterfactual theory of explanation
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DOI 10.1007/s13194-020-00292-y
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References found in this work BETA

What Makes a Scientific Explanation Distinctively Mathematical?Marc Lange - 2013 - British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 64 (3):485-511.
Four Decades of Scientific Explanation.Wesley C. Salmon & Anne Fagot-Largeault - 1989 - History and Philosophy of the Life Sciences 16 (2):355.
The Least Discerning and Most Promiscuous Truthmaker.Jonathan Schaffer - 2010 - Philosophical Quarterly 60 (239):307 - 324.

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Citations of this work BETA

Unification and Mathematical Explanation.Robert Knowles - forthcoming - Philosophical Studies.

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