Authors
Mark Povich
University of Rochester
Carl F. Craver
Washington University in St. Louis
Abstract
In “What Makes a Scientific Explanation Distinctively Mathematical?” (2013b), Lange uses several compelling examples to argue that certain explanations for natural phenomena appeal primarily to mathematical, rather than natural, facts. In such explanations, the core explanatory facts are modally stronger than facts about causation, regularity, and other natural relations. We show that Lange's account of distinctively mathematical explanation is flawed in that it fails to account for the implicit directionality in each of his examples. This inadequacy is remediable in each case by appeal to ontic facts that account for why the explanation is acceptable in one direction and unacceptable in the other direction. The mathematics involved in these examples cannot play this crucial normative role. While Lange's examples fail to demonstrate the existence of distinctively mathematical explanations, they help to emphasize that many superficially natural scientific explanations rely for their explanatory force on relations of stronger-than-natural necessity. These are not opposing kinds of scientific explanations; they are different aspects of scientific explanation.
Keywords Distinctively mathematical explanation  Modal conception  Ontic conception  Scientific explanation
Categories (categorize this paper)
DOI 10.1016/j.shpsa.2017.04.005
Options
Edit this record
Mark as duplicate
Export citation
Find it on Scholar
Request removal from index
Revision history

Download options

PhilArchive copy

 PhilArchive page | Other versions
External links

Setup an account with your affiliations in order to access resources via your University's proxy server
Configure custom proxy (use this if your affiliation does not provide a proxy)
Through your library

References found in this work BETA

Thinking About Mechanisms.Peter Machamer, Lindley Darden & Carl F. Craver - 2000 - Philosophy of Science 67 (1):1-25.
Causal Explanation.David Lewis - 1986 - In Philosophical Papers Vol. Ii. Oxford University Press. pp. 214-240.
What Makes a Scientific Explanation Distinctively Mathematical?Marc Lange - 2013 - British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 64 (3):485-511.

View all 20 references / Add more references

Citations of this work BETA

Counterfactuals and Explanatory Pluralism.Kareem Khalifa, Gabriel Doble & Jared Millson - 2020 - British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 71 (4):1439-1460.
The Narrow Ontic Counterfactual Account of Distinctively Mathematical Explanation.Mark Povich - 2019 - British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 72 (2):511-543.
Modality and constitution in distinctively mathematical explanations.Mark Povich - 2020 - European Journal for Philosophy of Science 10 (3):1-10.

View all 15 citations / Add more citations

Similar books and articles

What Makes a Scientific Explanation Distinctively Mathematical?Marc Lange - 2013 - British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 64 (3):485-511.
Complements, Not Competitors: Causal and Mathematical Explanations.Holly Andersen - 2017 - British Journal for the Philosophy of Science:axw023.
What Are Mathematical Coincidences ?M. Lange - 2010 - Mind 119 (474):307-340.
Mathematical Explanations Of Empirical Facts, And Mathematical Realism.Aidan Lyon - 2012 - Australasian Journal of Philosophy 90 (3):559-578.
Mechanistic Explanation Without the Ontic Conception.Cory Wright - 2012 - European Journal of Philosophy of Science 2 (3):375-394.
The Ontic Conception of Scientific Explanation.Cory Wright - 2015 - Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part A 54:20-30.

Analytics

Added to PP index
2017-05-26

Total views
1,132 ( #4,475 of 2,456,150 )

Recent downloads (6 months)
85 ( #7,726 of 2,456,150 )

How can I increase my downloads?

Downloads

My notes