How Can Causal Explanations Explain?
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The mechanistic and causal accounts of explanation are often conflated to yield a ‘causal-mechanical’ account. This paper prizes them apart and asks: if the mechanistic account is correct, how can causal explanations be explanatory? The answer to this question varies according to how causality itself is understood. It is argued that difference-making, mechanistic, dualist and inferentialist accounts of causality all struggle to yield explanatory causal explanations, but that an epistemic account of causality is more promising in this regard.
KeywordsCausal Explanation Causal Claim Mechanistic Account Mechanistic Connection Causal Belief
This research was conducted as a part of the research project Mechanisms and the evidence hierarchy, supported by the UK Arts and Humanities Research Council. I am very grateful to Lorenzo Casini, Start Glennan, Julien Murzi, Erik Weber and an anonymous referee for comments on earlier versions of this paper.
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