The explanatory nature of constraints: Law-based, mathematical, and causal

Synthese 202 (2):1-19 (2023)
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Abstract

This paper provides an analysis of explanatory constraints and their role in scientific explanation. This analysis clarifies main characteristics of explanatory constraints, ways in which they differ from “standard” explanatory factors, and the unique roles they play in scientific explanation. While current philosophical work appreciates two main types of explanatory constraints, this paper suggests a new taxonomy: law-based constraints, mathematical constraints, and causal constraints. This classification helps capture unique features of constraint types, the different roles they play in explanation, and it includes causal constraints, which are often overlooked in this literature.

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Lauren N. Ross
University of California, Irvine

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