Philosophy Compass 14 (8):e12613 (2019)

Yafeng Shan
University of Kent
The nature of scientific explanation is controversial. Some maintain that all scientific explanations have to be contrastive in nature (contrastivism). However, others argue that no scientific explanation is genuinely contrastive (non-contrastivism). In addition, a compatibilist view has been recently devloped. It is argued that the debate between contrastivism and non-contrastivism is merely a linguistic dispute rather than a genuine disagreement on the nature of scientific explanation. Scientific explanations are both contrastive and non-contrastive in some sense (compatibilism). This paper examines the debate between contrastivism and non-contrastivism in scientific explanation. It begins with a critical review of the arguments for contrastivism, for non-contrastivism, and for compatibilism and concludes with some remarks on the prospect of the issue.
Keywords scientific explanation  contrastive explanation  non-contrastive explanation  contrastivism  non-contrastivism  compatibilism  why-question
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DOI 10.1111/phc3.12613
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References found in this work BETA

Inference to the Best Explanation.Peter Lipton - 2007 - Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 74 (2):421-423.
Contrastive Explanation and the Demons of Determinism.Christopher Hitchcock - 1999 - British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 50 (4):585-612.
Forms of Explanation: Rethinking the Questions in Social Theory.Alan Garfinkel - 1982 - British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 33 (4):438-441.

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What Are the Pragmatics of Explanation?John W. Carroll - 2020 - Journal for General Philosophy of Science / Zeitschrift für Allgemeine Wissenschaftstheorie 51 (3):337-357.

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