Metaphysical Explanatory Asymmetries

Logique and Analyse 53 (211):345-365 (2010)
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Abstract

The 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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Jan Willem Wieland
VU University Amsterdam

Citations of this work

Bradley’s Regress.Anna-Sofia Maurin - 2012 - Philosophy Compass 7 (11):794-807.
Exemplification as Explanation.Anna-Sofia Maurin - 2013 - Axiomathes 23 (2):401-417.

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References found in this work

Studies in the logic of explanation.Carl Gustav Hempel & Paul Oppenheim - 1948 - Philosophy of Science 15 (2):135-175.
Explanatory unification.Philip Kitcher - 1981 - Philosophy of Science 48 (4):507-531.
Explanatory unification and the causal structure of the world.Philip Kitcher - 1989 - In Philip Kitcher & Wesley Salmon (eds.), Scientific Explanation. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press. pp. 410-505.

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