Humean scientific explanation

Philosophical Studies 172 (5):1311-1332 (2015)

Abstract

In a recent paper, Barry Loewer attempts to defend Humeanism about laws of nature from a charge that Humean laws are not adequately explanatory. Central to his defense is a distinction between metaphysical and scientific explanations: even if Humeans cannot offer further metaphysical explanations of particular features of their “mosaic,” that does not preclude them from offering scientific explanations of these features. According to Marc Lange, however, Loewer’s distinction is of no avail. Defending a transitivity principle linking scientific explanantia to their metaphysical grounds, Lange argues that a charge of explanatory inadequacy resurfaces once this intuitive principle is in place. This paper surveys, on behalf of the Humean, three strategies for responding to Lange’s criticism. The ready availability of these strategies suggests that Lange’s argument may not bolster anti-Humean convictions, since the argument rests on premises that those not antecedently sharing these convictions may well reject. The three strategies also correspond to three interesting ways of thinking about relations of grounding linking Humean laws and their instances, all of which are consistent with theses of Humean supervenience, and some of which have been heretofore overlooked.

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References found in this work

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Citations of this work

Nomothetic Explanation and Humeanism About Laws of Nature.Harjit Bhogal - 2020 - In Karen Bennett & Dean W. Zimmerman (eds.), Oxford Studies in Metaphysics, volume 12. Oxford: Oxford University Press. pp. 164–202.
Non‐Humean Theories of Natural Necessity.Tyler Hildebrand - 2020 - Philosophy Compass 15 (5):1-1.
Humeanism About Laws of Nature.Harjit Bhogal - 2020 - Philosophy Compass 15 (8):1-10.
Laws and Their Instances.Nina Emery - 2019 - Philosophical Studies 176 (6):1535-1561.
Debunking Logical Ground: Distinguishing Metaphysics From Semantics.Michaela Markham McSweeney - 2020 - Journal of the American Philosophical Association 6 (2):156-170.

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