Skip to main content
    • Aa
    • Aa
  • Get access
    Check if you have access via personal or institutional login
  • Cited by 46
  • Cited by
    This article has been cited by the following publications. This list is generated based on data provided by CrossRef.

    Clarke, Christopher 2016. The explanatory virtue of abstracting away from idiosyncratic and messy detail. Philosophical Studies, Vol. 173, Issue. 6, p. 1429.

    Clarke, Christopher 2016. How to define levels of explanation and evaluate their indispensability. Synthese,

    Pettit, Philip 2016. Making Up Your Mind: How Language Enables Self-Knowledge, Self-Knowability and Personhood. European Journal of Philosophy, Vol. 24, Issue. 1, p. 3.

    Ramsey, Grant 2016. The Causal Structure of Evolutionary Theory. Australasian Journal of Philosophy, Vol. 94, Issue. 3, p. 421.

    Southwood, Nicholas and Wiens, David 2016. “Actual” does not imply “feasible”. Philosophical Studies,

    Emery, N. 2015. Chance, Possibility, and Explanation. The British Journal for the Philosophy of Science, Vol. 66, Issue. 1, p. 95.

    Mantzavinos, C. 2015. International Encyclopedia of the Social & Behavioral Sciences.

    Pettit, Philip 2015. International Encyclopedia of the Social & Behavioral Sciences.

    Potochnik, Angela 2015. Causal patterns and adequate explanations. Philosophical Studies, Vol. 172, Issue. 5, p. 1163.

    Rice, Collin 2015. Moving Beyond Causes: Optimality Models and Scientific Explanation. Noûs, Vol. 49, Issue. 3, p. 589.

    Schulte, Peter 2015. Perceptual representations: a teleosemantic answer to the breadth-of-application problem. Biology & Philosophy, Vol. 30, Issue. 1, p. 119.

    Sober, Elliott 2015. Replies to commentators on Did Darwin Write the Origin Backwards?. Philosophical Studies, Vol. 172, Issue. 3, p. 829.

    Stoljar, Daniel 2015. International Encyclopedia of the Social & Behavioral Sciences.

    Szigeti, András 2015. Why Change the Subject? On Collective Epistemic Agency. Review of Philosophy and Psychology, Vol. 6, Issue. 4, p. 843.

    Zhong, Lei 2015. Semantic Normativity and Semantic Causality. Philosophy and Phenomenological Research, p. n/a.

    Brown, R. L. 2014. What Evolvability Really Is. The British Journal for the Philosophy of Science, Vol. 65, Issue. 3, p. 549.

    Currie, Adrian Mitchell 2014. Narratives, mechanisms and progress in historical science. Synthese, Vol. 191, Issue. 6, p. 1163.

    Liao, Shen-yi 2014. Explanations: Aesthetic and Scientific. Royal Institute of Philosophy Supplement, Vol. 75, p. 127.

    MCGINLEY, WILLIAM 2014. Mechanisms and microfoundations in International Relations theory. Review of International Studies, Vol. 40, Issue. 02, p. 367.

    Hochman, Adam 2013. The phylogeny fallacy and the ontogeny fallacy. Biology & Philosophy, Vol. 28, Issue. 4, p. 593.


In Defense of Explanatory Ecumenism

  • Frank Jackson (a1) and Philip Pettit (a1)
  • DOI:
  • Published online: 01 December 2008

Many of the things that we try to explain, in both our common sense and our scientific engagement with the world, are capable of being explained more or less finely: that is, with greater or lesser attention to the detail of the producing mechanism. A natural assumption, pervasive if not always explicit, is that other things being equal, the more finegrained an explanation, the better. Thus, Jon Elster, who also thinks there are instrumental reasons for wanting a more fine-grained explanation, assumes that in any case the mere fact of getting nearer the detail of production makes such an explanation intrinsically superior: “a more detailed explanation is also an end in itself” (Elster 1985, p. 5). Michael Taylor (1988, p. 96) agrees: “A good explanation should be, amongst other things, as fine-grained as possible.”

Linked references
Hide All

This list contains references from the content that can be linked to their source. For a full set of references and notes please see the PDF or HTML where available.

Gregory Currie . 1984. “Individualism and Global Supervenience.” British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 35:345–58.

Jon Elster . 1976. “A Note on Hysteresis in the Social Sciences.” Synthese 33:371–91.

Frank Jackson . 1990. “Program Explanation: A General Perspective.” Analysis 50:107–17.

Richard Miller . 1978. “Methodological Individualism and Social Explanation.” Philosophy of Science 45:387414.

David Papineau . 1978. For Science in the Social Sciences. London: Macmillan.

Phillip Pettit . 1990. “Virtus Normativa: Rational Choice Perspectives.” Ethics 100:725–55.

Alan Ryan . 1970. The Philosophy of the Social Sciences. London: Macmillan.

Recommend this journal

Email your librarian or administrator to recommend adding this journal to your organisation's collection.

Economics & Philosophy
  • ISSN: 0266-2671
  • EISSN: 1474-0028
  • URL: /core/journals/economics-and-philosophy
Please enter your name
Please enter a valid email address
Who would you like to send this to? *