PSA2016: The 25th Biennial Meeting of the Philosophy of Science Association

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Explanatory Relevance and Contrastive Explanation

This paper argues that the only role for the context in which an explanation is given is to fix a contrastive fact as the object of explanation. First, I argue that there is no determinate object of explanation until that object has been rendered in the contrastive form of P rather than Q. The main premise of this argument is explanatory pluralism. Second, I show how no other contextually supplied information is needed once a contrast has been set. This claim requires that the explanatory relevance relation be determined by the kind of contrast being explained.

Author Information:

Christopher Pincock    
Ohio State University


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