Holistic explanations of events

Philosophy 79 (4):573-589 (2004)
Abstract
Explanations of descriptions of events are undivided, holistic, units of analysis for the purpose of justification. Their justifications are based on the transmission of information about the past and its interpretation and analysis. Further analysis of explanations of descriptions of events is redundant. The “holistic” model of explanations fits better the actual practices of scientists, historians and ordinary people who utter explanatory propositions than competing models. I consider the “inference to the best explanation” model and argue that under one interpretation, it cannot account for all the paradigmatic cases of explanation of description of events that I present, though under another interpretation it fits comfortably with my holistic model. Finally, I argue that there is nothing intrinsic or structural to distinguish holistic explanations of descriptions of events from other hypothetical propositions because the pragmatic context of inquiry may well determine exclusively whether a proposition is considered explanatory.
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DOI 10.1017/S0031819104000452
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