Distinguishing topological and causal explanation

Synthese 198 (10):9803-9820 (2020)
  Copy   BIBTEX


Recent philosophical work has explored the distinction between causal and non-causal forms of explanation. In this literature, topological explanation is viewed as a clear example of the non-causal variety–it is claimed that topology lacks temporal information, which is necessary for causal structure. This paper explores the distinction between topological and causal forms of explanation and argues that this distinction is not as clear cut as the literature suggests. One reason for this is that some explanations involve both topological and causal information. In these “borderline” cases scientists explain some outcome by appealing to the causal topology of the system of interest. These cases help clarify a type of topological explanation that is genuinely causal, but that differs from standard topological and interventionist accounts of explanation.



    Upload a copy of this work     Papers currently archived: 92,038

External links

Setup an account with your affiliations in order to access resources via your University's proxy server

Through your library

Similar books and articles

Abstract versus Causal Explanations?Reutlinger Alexander & Andersen Holly - 2016 - International Studies in the Philosophy of Science 30 (2):129-146.
Forms of causal explanation.Erik Weber, Jeroen Van Bouwel & Robrecht Vanderbeeken - 2005 - Foundations of Science 10 (4):437-454.
Causal patterns and adequate explanations.Angela Potochnik - 2015 - Philosophical Studies 172 (5):1163-1182.
Explanation in Computational Neuroscience: Causal and Non-causal.M. Chirimuuta - 2018 - British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 69 (3):849-880.
Understanding Interests and Causal Explanation.Petri Ylikoski - 2001 - Dissertation, University of Helsinki
Explanatory Abstractions.Lina Jansson & Juha Saatsi - 2019 - British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 70 (3):817–844.


Added to PP

72 (#228,626)

6 months
18 (#141,331)

Historical graph of downloads
How can I increase my downloads?

Author's Profile

Lauren N. Ross
University of California, Irvine

References found in this work

Mathematics and Scientific Representation.Christopher Pincock - 2012 - Oxford and New York: Oxford University Press USA.
Explanatory Abstractions.Lina Jansson & Juha Saatsi - 2019 - British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 70 (3):817–844.

View all 17 references / Add more references