A Closer Look at Biological Explanations

  • Marie I. Kaiser
Part of the History, Philosophy and Theory of the Life Sciences book series (HPTL)


Chapter 5 serves two purposes: It specifies which understanding of ‘ontic’ underlies characterizing my account of explanatory reduction as ontic and it clarifies how questions about explanation are related to questions about explanatory reduction. I show that discussions about accounts of reduction are independent from questions about explanation but that debates about explanatory reductionism, in fact, boil down to specific questions about explanation, namely, to questions about the adequacy of higher- and lower-level explanations. How one answers these questions depends on one’s stance on the pragmatics of explanation. I develop a refined version of van Fraassen’s pragmatic account of explanation that clarifies in which sense the adequacy of explanation is far from subjective or exclusively determined by pragmatic factors.


Biological explanation Ontic account Explanatory reductionism Pragmatic account Level of explanation 


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© Springer International Publishing Switzerland 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  • Marie I. Kaiser
    • 1
  1. 1.Universität zu KölnKölnGermany

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