Mechanistic and Otherwise
This concluding chapter offers an abstract account of explanation as such, arguing that explanations involve the construction of models that always show what the targets of explanation depend upon (dependence), and sometimes show how multiple targets depend upon similar things (unification). It then suggests, in light of this account, how Salmon’s three conceptions of scientific explanation are not alternative conceptions, but are in fact complementary aspects of successful explanation. Explanations of natural phenomena are then divided into three kinds—bare causal, mechanistic, and non-causal. Bare causal explanations show what depends upon what, while mechanistic explanations show how those dependencies arise. Non-causal explanations in various forms show non-causal dependencies, which arise from features of the space in which mechanisms act.
Oxford Scholarship Online requires a subscription or purchase to access the full text of books within the service. Public users can however freely search the site and view the abstracts and keywords for each book and chapter.
If you think you should have access to this title, please contact your librarian.