Warfare and western manufactures: A case study of explanation in anthropology

Philosophy of Science 65 (4):649-671 (1998)
I use an explanation of Yanomami warfare given by the anthropologist Brian Ferguson as a case study to compare the merits of the causal and unification approaches to explanation. I argue that Ferguson's insistence on explaining actual occurrences and patterns of Yanomami warfare together with his claim that all of his generalizations are statistical raises difficulties for the unification approach, because of its commitment to "deductive chauvinism." Moreover, I show that there are serious difficulties involved in comparing the "unifying power" of Ferguson's explanations to those of his competitors. I show that the causal approach can provide a rich analysis of Ferguson's explanation while avoiding these difficulties
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DOI 10.1086/392664
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