Darren Bradley
University of Leeds
There is a widely shared belief that the higher-level sciences can provide better explanations than lower-level sciences. But there is little agreement about exactly why this is so. It is often suggested that higher-level explanations are better because they omit details. I will argue instead that the preference for higher-level explanations is just a special case of our general preference for informative, logically strong, beliefs. I argue that our preference for informative beliefs entirely accounts for why higher-level explanations are sometimes better—and sometimes worse—than lower-level explanations. The result is a step in the direction of the unity of science hypothesis. 1Introduction2Background: Is Omitting Details an Explanatory Virtue? 2.1Anti-reductionist arguments2.2Reductionist argument2.3Logical strength3Bases, Links and Logical Strength4Functionalism and Fodor’s Argument5Two Generalizations6Should the Base Really Be Maximally Strong?7Anti-reductionist Arguments Regarding the Base8Should the Antecedent of the Link Really Be Maximally Weak?
Keywords explanation  reduction
Categories (categorize this paper)
DOI 10.1093/bjps/axy033
Edit this record
Mark as duplicate
Export citation
Find it on Scholar
Request removal from index
Revision history

Download options

PhilArchive copy

 PhilArchive page | Other versions
External links

Setup an account with your affiliations in order to access resources via your University's proxy server
Configure custom proxy (use this if your affiliation does not provide a proxy)
Through your library

References found in this work BETA

Writing the Book of the World.Theodore Sider - 2011 - Oxford, England: Oxford University Press.
Philosophical Explanations.Robert Nozick - 1981 - Harvard University Press.

View all 102 references / Add more references

Citations of this work BETA

What Is Bayesian Confirmation For?Darren Bradley - 2017 - International Studies in the Philosophy of Science 31 (3):229-241.

Add more citations

Similar books and articles

Supervenience and Explanation.Harold Kincaid - 1988 - Synthese 77 (November):251-81.
Levels of Explanation Reconceived.Angela Potochnik - 2010 - Philosophy of Science 77 (1):59-72.
Who’s Afraid of Gory Details?Sun Kyeong Yu - 2008 - Proceedings of the Xxii World Congress of Philosophy 43:215-223.
Indispensability Arguments in Favour of Reductive Explanations.Jeroen Van Bouwel, Erik Weber & Leen De Vreese - 2011 - Journal for General Philosophy of Science / Zeitschrift für Allgemeine Wissenschaftstheorie 42 (1):33-46.
On Computational Explanations.Anna-Mari Rusanen & Otto Lappi - 2016 - Synthese 193 (12):3931-3949.
Which Are the Genuine Properties?Bradley Rives - 2015 - Metaphilosophy 46 (1):104-126.
High-Level Explanation and the Interventionist’s ‘Variables Problem’.L. R. Franklin-Hall - 2016 - British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 67 (2):553-577.
Explanations at Multiple Levels.Alexander Rueger - 2001 - Minds and Machines 11 (4):503-520.
Explanatory Abstractions.Lina Jansson & Juha Saatsi - 2019 - British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 70 (3):817–844.


Added to PP index

Total views
498 ( #16,374 of 2,463,153 )

Recent downloads (6 months)
53 ( #16,192 of 2,463,153 )

How can I increase my downloads?


My notes