British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 73 (2):561-581 (2022)
AbstractTypicality is routinely invoked in everyday contexts: bobcats are typically short-tailed; people are typically less than seven feet tall. Typicality is invoked in scientific contexts as well: typical gases expand; typical quantum systems exhibit probabilistic behaviour. And typicality facts like these support many explanations, both quotidian and scientific. But what is it for something to be typical? And how do typicality facts explain? In this paper, I propose a general theory of typicality. I analyse the notion of a typical property. I provide a formalism for typicality explanations, and I give an account of why typicality explanations are explanatory. Along the way, I show how typicality facts explain a variety of phenomena, from everyday phenomena to the statistical mechanical behaviour of gases. Finally, I argue that typicality is not the same thing as probability.
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Citations of this work
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References found in this work
Aspects of Scientific Explanation and Other Essays in the Philosophy of Science.Carl Gustav Hempel - 1965 - New York: The Free Press.
Causal explanation.David Lewis - 1986 - In Philosophical Papers Vol. Ii. Oxford University Press. pp. 214-240.
Are There Non-Causal Explanations (of Particular Events)?Brdford Skow - 2013 - British Journal for the Philosophy of Science (3):axs047.