Philosophy Lexicon 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 274
Modality/Explanation/Bigelow/Pargetter: in the explanation of the modalities, the causation can now enter as a local feature. Best in the semantics of possible worlds.
I 275
Causation/Bigelow/Pargetter: is always an input for an explanation, never an output.
Probabilistic Theory/Causation/Bigelow/Pargetter: pro: it shows that it is misguided to use causation as an undefined concept. Causation rather longs for explanation. We need to find out more about the causal relation. And the probabilistic theory contributes to this.
BigelowVsProbabilistic theory: however, it combines causation too closely with modal terms and reverses the priorities.
Pro: Nevertheless, there are often connections between causation and modality.
Modality/explanation/Bigelow/Pargetter: thesis: the explanation is based on the causation of modality.
But causation cannot be taken as an unexplained basic concept.
I 286
Causation/Bigelow/Pargetter: its explanation creates four problems:
I 287
1. Macroscopic forces: how plausible is it that they supervene on fundamental forces, and thus on basic physical causes?
2. How can we justify the choice of forces instead of other physical ingredients?
3. How do we explain the connection between causation and different modal terms?
4. Forces and causes: what kind of higher-level universals are they?
I 287
Forces/Bigelow/Pargetter: there is a difference between the fundamental forces we assume and the macroscopic forces we encounter in our daily life.
Definition causal relation/Bigelow/Pargetter: (see above) as an aggregate of suitable fundamental forces.
Problem: is the supervenience thesis true of the macroscopic on fundamental forces?
Fundamental forces: remain the same, even if the special particles and their fields change. They have a strong explanatory power, e.g. they enable us to draw force parallelograms, etc.
I 288
Definition causation/Lewis/Bigelow/Pargetter: he defines them by causal chains.
Causal chain/Bigelow/Pargetter: needs then for every link a basic causation which requires counterfactual conditionals, for the end links there will be a derived causal relation. There will always be many parallel chains, with different connections among each other. This can lead to a complex network.
Explanation/Bigelow/Pargetter: the metaphysical apparatus we employ does not claim to be adequate for the totality of the causal relations. But for some.

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.

Big I
J. Bigelow, R. Pargetter
Science and Necessity Cambridge 1990

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Ed. Martin Schulz, access date 2018-05-26