|Explanation: making a statement in relation to an event, a state, a change or an action that was described before by a deviating statement. The statement will often try to involve circumstances, history, logical premises, causes and causality. See also description, statements, theories, understanding, literal truth, best explanation, causality, cause, completeness._____________Annotation: The above characterizations of concepts are neither definitions nor exhausting presentations of problems related to them. Instead, they are intended to give a short introduction to the contributions below. – Lexicon of Arguments. |
Ernst Mayr on Explanation - Dictionary of Arguments
Biology: Questions: e.g. unique events: "Why are there no hummingbirds in the old world"? E.g. "Where did Homo sapiens begin?" This leads to historical representation as the only possible form.
This approach is fundamentally different from the explanation by means of causal laws. One can never categorically prove that a historical representation is "true".
>Single-case causation, >Causality, >Causal explanation, >History,
Reproducibility/Science: the uniqueness is not reserved for the living nature! E.g. each of the nine planets is unique. Every mountain range and stream has unique features on the earth.
Hume/Science: cannot say anything satisfying about the cause of any unique phenomenon.
>Causes, >Effect, >Causality/Hume.
MayrVsHume: the historical representation can often explain unique events satisfactorily and sometimes even make verifiable predictions.
History/Causation/Mayr: earlier events usually contribute causally to later ones. "Particularistic causality".
Biology/explanation/Mayr: here we often find more than a causal explanation. Perhaps one has to explain most of the phenomena of biology even with several theories! A theory of science that cannot cope with pluralism is unsuitable for biology.
Explanation/biology: by direct causes: molecular biology, functional morphology, developmental biology, physiological genetics
Indirect: evolutionary biology, classical genetics, ethology, systematics, comparative morphology, ecology.
Problem: separation of morphology and genetics. Overlaps._____________Explanation of symbols: Roman numerals indicate the source, arabic numerals indicate the page number. The corresponding books are indicated on the right hand side. ((s)…): Comment by the sender of the contribution. Translations: Dictionary of Arguments The note [Concept/Author], [Author1]Vs[Author2] or [Author]Vs[term] resp. "problem:"/"solution:", "old:"/"new:" and "thesis:" is an addition from the Dictionary of Arguments. If a German edition is specified, the page numbers refer to this edition.
This is Biology, Cambridge/MA 1997
Das ist Biologie Heidelberg 1998