Towards a Monist Theory of Explanation
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A monist theory of explanation is one that seeks a common definition for all speech acts answering why-questions. One recent example is the counterfactual theory of explanation (CTE), which assumes that an ideal explanation can be characterized by the familiar Hempelian criteria for a scientific explanation plus a certain counterfactual that is supported by the laws mentioned in the explanans. I show that the CTE fails. My discussion leads to a critique of the CTE’s key concept of counterfactual dependence and to the suggestion of an alternative: For an argument to be a scientific explanation, a certain necessary-condition claim must be true. For an answer to a why-question to be an explanation, it must express a certain necessary condition.
KeywordsExplanation Hempel’s theory of explanation Counterfactual theory of explanation Counterfactuals Counterfactual dependence Necessary and sufficient conditions
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