Explanation Beyond Causation: Philosophical Perspectives on Non-Causal Explanations

ISBN : 9780198777946

Alexander Reutlinger; Juha Saatsi
288 Pages
156 x 234 mm
Pub date
Jun 2018
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Explanations are important to us in many contexts: in science, mathematics, philosophy, and also in everyday and juridical contexts. But what is an explanation? In the philosophical study of explanation, there is long-standing, influential tradition that links explanation intimately to causation: we often explain by providing accurate information about the causes of the phenomenon to be explained. Such causal accounts have been the received view of the nature of explanation, particularly in philosophy of science, since the 1980s. However, philosophers have recently begun to break with this causal tradition by shifting their focus to kinds of explanation that do not turn on causal information. The increasing recognition of the importance of such non-causal explanations in the sciences and elsewhere raises pressing questions for philosophers of explanation. What is the nature of non-causal explanations - and which theory best captures it? How do non-causal explanations relate to causal on


Alexander Reutlinger and Juha Saatsi: Introduction: Scientific Explanation Beyond Causation
Part I: General Approaches
1 Marc Lange: Because without Cause: Scientific Explanation by Constraint
2 Christopher Pincock: Accommodating Explanatory Pluralism
3 Angela Potochnik: Eight Other Questions about Explanation
4 Alexander Reutlinger: Extending the Counterfactual Theory of Explanation
5 Michael Strevens: The Mathematical Route to Causal Understanding
6 James Woodward: Some Varieties of Non-Causal Explanation
Part II: Case Studies from the Sciences
7 Alisa Bokulich: Searching for Non-Causal Explanations in the Sea of Causes
8 Mazviita Chirimuuta: Efficient Coding Explanation in Neuroscience
9 Steven French and Juha Saatsi: Symmetries and Explanatory Dependencies in Physics
10 Margaret Morrison: The Non-Causal Character of Renormalization Group Explanations
Part III: Beyond the Sciences
11 Mark Colyvan, John Cusbert, and Kelvin McQueen: Two Flavours of Mathematical Explanation
12 Lina Jansson: When Are Structural Equation Models Apt? Causation versus Grounding

About the author: 

Alexander Reutlinger is Assistant Professor at the Ludwig-Maximilians-Universitat Munchen (Munich Center for Mathematical Philosophy). He works on topics in philosophy of science and neighboring areas of epistemology and metaphysics (including topics such as explanation, causation, probabilities, ceteris paribus laws, idealizations, reduction, and models). ; Juha Saatsi is Associate Professor of Philosophy at University of Leeds. He is co-editor of The Bloomsbury Companion to the Philosophy of Science (2014) and of The Structural Foundations of Quantum Gravity (OUP 2006).

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