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Causality and Explanation$
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Wesley C. Salmon

Print publication date: 1998

Print ISBN-13: 9780195108644

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: November 2003

DOI: 10.1093/0195108647.001.0001

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Comets, Pollen, and Dreams Some Reflections on Scientific Explanation

Comets, Pollen, and Dreams Some Reflections on Scientific Explanation

Chapter:
(p.50) 3 Comets, Pollen, and Dreams Some Reflections on Scientific Explanation
Source:
Causality and Explanation
Author(s):

Wesley C. Salmon

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/0195108647.003.0004

Examines three basic approaches to scientific explanation (the epistemic, modal, and ontic conceptions) that have been advocated by influential writers in the second half of the twentieth century and are still held today. It shows how fundamental differences in these approaches emerge when they confront explanation in scientific contexts in which statistical laws and functional explanations play major roles. The author argues that the ontic conception, in which events are explained by showing how they fit into the physical patterns found in the world, is best equipped to handle explanations that are problematic for the other approaches.

Keywords:   epistemic explanation, explanation, modal explanation, ontic explanation, scientific explanation, statistical laws

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