European Journal for Philosophy of Science

, Volume 2, Issue 3, pp 375–394

Mechanistic explanation without the ontic conception

Original paper in Philosophy of Science

DOI: 10.1007/s13194-012-0048-8

Cite this article as:
Wright, C.D. Euro Jnl Phil Sci (2012) 2: 375. doi:10.1007/s13194-012-0048-8


The ontic conception of scientific explanation has been constructed and motivated on the basis of a putative lexical ambiguity in the term explanation. I raise a puzzle for this ambiguity claim, and then give a deflationary solution under which all ontically-rendered talk of explanation is merely elliptical; what it is elliptical for is a view of scientific explanation that altogether avoids the ontic conception. This result has revisionary consequences for New Mechanists and other philosophers of science, many of whom have assimilated their conception of explanation to the ontic conception.


AmbiguityCraverExhibitionMechanismMechanistic explanationOntic conceptionSalmonScientific explanationSyllepsis

Copyright information

© Springer Science + Business Media B.V. 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Philosophy, California State University, Long BeachLong BeachUSA