Causal theories of explanation and the challenge of explanatory disagreement
Date of Issue2014
School of Humanities and Social Sciences
When evaluating the success of causal theories of explanation the focus has typically been on the legitimacy of causal relations and on putative examples of explanations that we cannot capture in causal terms. Here I motivate the existence of a third kind of problem: the difficulty of accounting for explanatory disputes. Moreover, I argue that this problem remains even if the first two are settled and that it threatens to undercut one of the central motivations for causal accounts of explanation, namely, the causal account of the directionality of scientific explanation.
Philosophy of science
© 2014 Philosophy of Science Association. This paper was published in Philosophy of Science and is made available as an electronic reprint (preprint) with permission of Philosophy of Science Association. The paper can be found at the following official DOI: [http://dx.doi.org/10.1086/676687]. One print or electronic copy may be made for personal use only. Systematic or multiple reproduction, distribution to multiple locations via electronic or other means, duplication of any material in this paper for a fee or for commercial purposes, or modification of the content of the paper is prohibited and is subject to penalties under law.