Explanation = Unification? A New Criticism of Friedman’s Theory and a Reply to an Old One

Philosophy of Science 84 (3):391-413 (2017)
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Abstract

According to Michael Friedman’s theory of explanation, a law X explains laws Y1, Y2, …, Yn precisely when X unifies the Y’s, where unification is understood in terms of reducing the number of independently acceptable laws. Philip Kitcher criticized Friedman’s theory but did not analyze the concept of independent acceptability. Here we show that Kitcher’s objection can be met by modifying an element in Friedman’s account. In addition, we argue that there are serious objections to the use that Friedman makes of the concept of independent acceptability.

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Author Profiles

Elliott Sober
University of Wisconsin, Madison
William Roche
Texas Christian University

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