The Narrow Ontic Counterfactual Account of Distinctively Mathematical Explanation

British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 72 (2):511-543 (2021)
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Abstract

An account of distinctively mathematical explanation (DME) should satisfy three desiderata: it should account for the modal import of some DMEs; it should distinguish uses of mathematics in explanation that are distinctively mathematical from those that are not (Baron [2016]); and it should also account for the directionality of DMEs (Craver and Povich [2017]). Baron’s (forthcoming) deductive-mathematical account, because it is modelled on the deductive-nomological account, is unlikely to satisfy these desiderata. I provide a counterfactual account of DME, the Narrow Ontic Counterfactual Account (NOCA), that can satisfy all three desiderata. NOCA appeals to ontic considerations to account for explanatory asymmetry and ground the relevant counterfactuals. NOCA provides a unification of the causal and the non-causal, the ontic and the modal, by identifying a common core that all explanations share and in virtue of which they are explanatory.

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Mark Povich
University of Rochester

References found in this work

New work for a theory of universals.David K. Lewis - 1983 - Australasian Journal of Philosophy 61 (4):343-377.
Counterfactuals.David Lewis - 1973 - Foundations of Language 13 (1):145-151.
The Universe as We Find It.John Heil - 2012 - Oxford, GB: Oxford University Press.
New Work For a Theory of Universals.David Lewis - 1983 - In D. H. Mellor & Alex Oliver (eds.), Properties. Oxford University Press.

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