Metaphysically explanatory unification

  • David Mark KovacsEmail author


This paper develops and motivates a unification theory of metaphysical explanation, or as I will call it, Metaphysical Unificationism. The theory’s main inspiration is the unification account of scientific explanation, according to which explanatoriness is a holistic feature of theories that derive a large number of explananda from a meager set of explanantia, using a small number of argument patterns. In developing Metaphysical Unificationism, I will point out that it has a number of interesting (and to my mind, attractive) consequences. The view offers a novel conception of metaphysical explanation that doesn’t rely on the notion of a “determinative” or “explanatory” relation; it allows us to draw a principled distinction between metaphysical and scientific explanations; it implies that naturalness and fundamentality are distinct but intimately related notions; and perhaps most importantly, it re-establishes the unduly neglected link between explanation and understanding in the metaphysical realm. A number of objections can be raised against the view, but I will argue that none of these is conclusive. The upshot is that Metaphysical Unificationism provides a powerful and hitherto overlooked alternative to extant theories of metaphysical explanation.


Grounding Metaphysical explanation Naturalness Scientific explanation Unification theory of explanation 



For many helpful comments on and discussions about earlier versions of this paper I’m grateful to Karen Bennett, Sandy Berkovski, Shamik Dasgupta, Louis deRosset, Cian Dorr, Matti Eklund, Jon Litland, Mike Raven, Alex Skiles, Elanor Taylor, Jack Woods, an anonymous referee of this journal, and audiences at a conference entitled “Grounds in the Philosophy of Science” (University of Geneva), the 2nd Epistemology of Metaphysics Workshop (University of Helsinki), the 2nd Metaphysics on the Mountain workshop (Sun Valley), and a department colloquium at the University of Gothenburg.


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© Springer Nature B.V. 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of PhilosophyTel Aviv UniversityRamat Aviv, Tel AvivIsrael

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