Towards a Monist Theory of Explanation

Journal for General Philosophy of Science / Zeitschrift für Allgemeine Wissenschaftstheorie 50 (4):447-475 (2019)
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A monist theory of explanation is one that seeks a common definition for all speech acts answering why-questions. One recent example is the counterfactual theory of explanation, which assumes that an ideal explanation can be characterized by the familiar Hempelian criteria for a scientific explanation plus a certain counterfactual that is supported by the laws mentioned in the explanans. I show that the CTE fails. My discussion leads to a critique of the CTE’s key concept of counterfactual dependence and to the suggestion of an alternative: For an argument to be a scientific explanation, a certain necessary-condition claim must be true. For an answer to a why-question to be an explanation, it must express a certain necessary condition.



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Philosophical papers.David Kellogg Lewis - 1983 - New York: Oxford University Press.
The Scientific Image.William Demopoulos & Bas C. van Fraassen - 1982 - Philosophical Review 91 (4):603.
Ontological Dependence.Tuomas E. Tahko & E. J. Lowe - 2020 - Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy.

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