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Is There A Monist Theory of Causal and Noncausal Explanations? The Counterfactual Theory of Scientific Explanation

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  01 January 2022


The goal of this paper is to develop a counterfactual theory of explanation (CTE). The CTE provides a monist framework for causal and noncausal explanations, according to which both causal and noncausal explanations are explanatory by virtue of revealing counterfactual dependencies between the explanandum and the explanans. I argue that the CTE is applicable to two paradigmatic examples of noncausal explanations: Euler’s explanation and renormalization group explanations of universality.

Noncausal Explanation
Copyright © The Philosophy of Science Association

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I am grateful to Holly Andersen, Claus Beisbart, Mathias Frisch, Stephan Hartmann, Andreas Hüttemann, Marc Lange, John Norton, Chris Pincock, Juha Saatsi, Larry Shapiro, Michael Strevens, and the members of the Munich Center for Mathematical Philosophy for their helpful comments on an earlier draft of this paper. Very special thanks to Maria Kronfeldner.


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