There are Non‐Causal Explanations of Particular Events

Metaphilosophy 47 (2):264-282 (2016)
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Abstract

A defence of non-causal explanations of events is presented in cases where explanation is understood as modal explanation. In such cases the source of modal information is crucial. All explanations implicitly use contrast classes, and relative to a particular contrast we can privilege some difference makers over others. Thinking about changes in these privileged “actual” difference makers is then the source of modal information for any given explanandum. If an actual difference maker is non-causal, then we have a principled definition of a non-causal explanation of an event regardless of how much causal information is also contained in the explanans. A demarcation of explanation into causal and non-causal in this way recovers ordinary language about explanation as well as reflecting genuine differences in practice, such as the in-principle evidential base for any modal claim.

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