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Does the counterfactual theory of explanation apply to non-causal explanations in metaphysics?

  • Alexander ReutlingerEmail author
Original Paper in Philosophy of Science

Abstract

In the recent philosophy of explanation, a growing attention to and discussion of non-causal explanations has emerged, as there seem to be compelling examples of non-causal explanations in the sciences, in pure mathematics, and in metaphysics. I defend the claim that the counterfactual theory of explanation (CTE) captures the explanatory character of both non-causal scientific and metaphysical explanations. According to the CTE, scientific and metaphysical explanations are explanatory by virtue of revealing counterfactual dependencies between the explanandum and the explanans. I support this claim by illustrating that CTE is applicable to Euler’s explanation (an example of a non-causal scientific explanation) and Loewer’s explanation (an example of a non-causal metaphysical explanation).

Keywords

Scientific explanation Non-causal explanation Explanation in metaphysics Mathematical explanation 

Notes

Acknowledgments

I would like to thank Hanoch Ben-Yami, Philip Goff, Siegfried Jaag, Lina Jansson, Maria Kronfeldner, Marc Lange, John T. Roberts, Juha Saatsi, and Wolfgang Schwarz as well as audiences in Budapest, Leeds, and Luxemburg for constructive comments. I am particularly grateful to Barry Loewer for many stimulating conversations (about many topics) over the past several years.

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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Munich Center for Mathematical PhilosophyLudwig-Maximilians-Universität MünchenMunichGermany

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