Explication et pertinence : du sel ensorcelé à la loi des aires

Dialogue 50 (4):689-723 (2011)
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ABSTRACT: Whereas relevance in scientific explanations is usually discussed as if it was a single problem, several criteria of relevance will be distinguished in this paper. Emphasis is laid upon the notion of intra-scientific relevance, which is illustrated using explanation of the law of areas as an example. Traditional accounts of explanation, such as the causal and unificationist accounts, are analyzed against these criteria of relevance. Particularly, it will be shown that these accounts fail to indicate which explanations fulfill the condition of intra-scientific relevance. Finally, the significance of this latter criterion is emphasized, and the epistemic benefits of explanations that fulfill it are highlighted



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