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How the Laws of Physics Lie$
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Nancy Cartwright

Print publication date: 1983

Print ISBN-13: 9780198247043

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: November 2003

DOI: 10.1093/0198247044.001.0001

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The Simulacrum Account of Explanation

The Simulacrum Account of Explanation

Chapter:
(p.143) Essay 8 The Simulacrum Account of Explanation
Source:
How the Laws of Physics Lie
Author(s):

Nancy Cartwright (Contributor Webpage)

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/0198247044.003.0009

The very paucity of bridge principles in physics is important for increasing the explanatory power of fundamental theories, given that physics usually employs a few well‐understood principles to model many different aspects of physical processes. However, this also implies that the fundamental laws of physics do not govern objects in the real world, but rather only objects in models. Consequently, the proper account of explanation in science is the ‘simulacrum’ view. On this account, to explain is to construct a model that fits the phenomenon into the basic framework of the theory, and then to derive analogues for its phenomenological laws.

Keywords:   explanation in science, laser, models, phenomenological laws, simulacrum theory of explanation

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