Grounding and the explanatory role of generalizations
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According to Hempel’s (Aspects of scientific explanation and other essays. The Free Press, New York, 1965) influential theory of explanation, explaining why some a is G consists in showing that the truth that a is G follows from a law-like generalization to the effect that all Fs are G together with the initial condition that a is F. While Hempel’s overall account is now widely considered to be deeply flawed, the idea that some generalizations play the explanatory role that the account predicts is still often endorsed by contemporary philosophers of science. This idea, however, conflicts with widely shared views in metaphysics according to which the generalization that all Fs are G is partially explained by the fact that a is G. I discuss two solutions to this conflict that have been proposed recently, argue that they are unsatisfactory, and offer an alternative.
KeywordsGrounding Exlpanation Generalization Laws
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