On Some Non-trivial Implications of the View that Good Explanations Increase Our Understanding of Explained Phenomena

Balkan Journal of Philosophy 9 (1):45-52 (2017)

Abstract

The central argument in this paper is the following: if we agree that one of the aims of explanation is to provide or increase understanding, and if we assess understanding on the basis of the inferences one can draw from the knowledge of the phenomenon which is understood, then the value of an explanation, i.e. its capacity to provide or increase understanding of the explained phenomenon, should be assessed on the basis of the extra-inferences which this explanation allows for. The extra-inferences which a given explanation allows for constitute its inferential content. The analysis of the explanation’s inferential content could be applied to all kinds of explanations with the aim of assessing their goodness. I show how such an analysis helps us to better understand a number of difficulties that have puzzled contemporary philosophers of explanation: the flagpole counterexample to the deductive-nomological model of explanation, the conjunction problem, the difference between good and bad circular explanations.

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Lilia Gurova
New Bulgarian University

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