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THE IDEA OF CONTRASTIVE EXPLANANDUM

  • PETRI YLIKOSKI
Part of the BOSTON STUDIES IN THE PHILOSOPHY OF SCIENCE book series (BSPS, volume 252)

Abstract

In this paper, I will discuss the idea of contrastive explanandum. I will restrict my discussion to singular causal explanation, but the basic ideas and the arguments have a broader application. They are relevant also to other kinds of explanations. In the first section I will first present the intuitive idea of contrastive questions, and then elaborate it by discussing typical criteria for the choice of a contrast. I also suggest a novel way to see the difference between scientific and everyday explanatory questions. In the second section I will discuss the major criticisms presented against contrastive theories of explanation in order to further clarify my position. I argue that all explananda can be analyzed as contrastive and that this is a fruitful approach in understanding explanatory questions. I also argue that the contrastive thesis should be understood as a claim about what an explanation can explain, not as a thesis about what the explainee has in her mind. Finally, I defend the thesis that a contrastive explanandum can be reduced to a non-contrastive explanandum against the arguments presented by Dennis Temple and John W. Carroll.

Keywords

Causal History Pragmatic Theory Explanatory Information Explanatory Question Weak Reading 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.

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  • PETRI YLIKOSKI

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