Logique and Analyse 53 (211):345-365 (2010)
AbstractThe general view is that metaphysical explanation is asymmetric. For instance, if resemblance facts can be explained by facts about their relata, then, by the asymmetry of explanation, these latter facts cannot in turn be explained by the former. The question however is: is there any reason to hold on to the asymmetry? If so, what does it consist in? In the paper we approach these questions by comparing them to analogous questions that have been investigated for scientific explanations. Three main asymmetry criteria have been proposed for the latter: (i) causation, (ii) unification, and (iii) explanatory dependence. We argue that the last criterion, but not the former two, can be of help to metaphysical explanation: metaphysical explanations are asymmetric if the explanatory dependence criterion (in modified format) holds of them.
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