Philosophy Dictionary of Arguments

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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.

Author Item Summary Meta data
I 23
Explanation/FraassenVsReichenbach: the unlimited demand for explanation leads to the demand of hidden variables.
I 25
Explanation: if mere regularity makes a macroscopic theory poor, then the same happens to a microscopic one - coincidence: also coincidence can have an explanation.
I 39
Explanation/FraassenVsAugustinus: the fleeing of the mouse from the cat must not be explained by perception - but with Darwin: the fleeing mice survive. There is no account by reason. Analogously it applies that the successful sciences survive - without this having to be explained.
I 86
Theory/Explanation: For example, one could have two types of mechanics, one for physiologies and one for astronomers - problem: one cannot explain a complex phenomenon with this - e.g. man who is walking on the moon - if both theories have no common models, a new theory on lunar gravitation must be established - empirical adequacy: requires the integration of these "mini-theories".
I 87
Explanation: if we consider some kind of questions to be more important, this is no reason to believe that the theory that explains them is more probable - however, the social situation of the researcher plays a role in the evaluation of theories.
I 93
Explanation/Ernest Nagel: explanation is the organization and classification of our knowledge - FraassenVsFeyerabend: he misunderstood the fact: that this is a function of interests - FraassenVsFeyerabend: then one can stop to research if one believes, what one says - naive view of scientific security - then the scientists ought to swear by an oath that they are looking for explanations -FraassVsFeyerabend: in reality one must always doubt the adequacy.
I 97f
Explanation/FraassenVsTradition: explanation does not have to be true! - a) "we have an explanation" (has to do with acceptance) - b) "the theory explains" (without acceptance) - e.g. Newton's theory was wrong nevertheless it explains much - ((s) then a theory cannot be a conjunction of sentences, for then no sentence may be false.) - Harman: Explanation leads to acceptance - explanation/Fraassen: something does not require that theory coincides with the world as a whole.
I 98
One cannot assert the truth of a theory before its explanatory power - Explanation: is not an additional property for empirical adequacy - e.g. "the computer computes" - no one would say "the hammer struck the nail".
I 106
Explanation/VsHempel/Morton Beckner: e.g. evolution is not deterministic - e.g. the giraffes's neck is not determined by dietary scarcity - only by the compatibility of genetic and natural selection mechanisms - Putnam: also Newton's explanation is no deduction, but a demonstration of compatibilities.
I 110
Definition Explanation/Friedman: S explains P iff P is a consequence S which is "relative" to K and S "reduces" or "unifies" the set of its own consequences relative to K.
I 111
Explanation: Problem: 1. Incompleteness: disease explains a rare secondary disease that is triggered by it - but not why this patient is affected - asymmetry: e.g. length of the shadow: is always in relation with a certain sun position. - Causation: only goes in one direction.
I 111
Why question: does not occur when the spectrum is explained by the atomic structure.
I 124
Explanation: has to do with "why" - to find prominent factors in the causal network - problem: the network as a whole does not explain typical cases - science, however, describes the network - ((s) therefore science does not equal an explanation. Explanation must at least say that there is a structure that can be described in principle - though never fully.)
I 146
Explanation: for evaluating a response to a why question as an explanation, it is not a matter of whether this is true - the evaluation uses only the part of the background information that provides the general theory about these phenomena plus additional information that does not include the facts to be explained - ((s) e.g. framework conditions).
I 155
Explanation/Description/Fractions: explanation and description do not differ in the information - but explanation: is a three-digit relation theory-fact-context - description: is two-digit: theory-fact - Explanation: is an applied science (not pure science).
I 205
Explanation/Thomas Aquinas/Fraassen: everything that is explained must be explained by something else.
I 206
The premises must contain more than the conclusion - in addition: generalization: e.g. that all magnets attract iron.
I 213
Explanation/Fraassen: only observable regularities require explanation.

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.
The note [Author1]Vs[Author2] or [Author]Vs[term] is an addition from the Dictionary of Arguments. If a German edition is specified, the page numbers refer to this edition.

Fr I
B. van Fraassen
The Scientific Image Oxford 1980

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Ed. Martin Schulz, access date 2019-08-25
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