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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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A Third Dogma of Empiricism

A Third Dogma of Empiricism

Chapter:
(p.95) 6 A Third Dogma of Empiricism
Source:
Causality and Explanation
Author(s):

Wesley C. Salmon

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/0195108647.003.0007

Challenges the widely held thesis that scientific explanations are arguments (the “third dogma”) by posing three questions that seem to raise difficulties for it: (1) Why are irrelevancies harmless to arguments but fatal to explanations? (2) Can events whose probabilities are low be explained? Or, to reformulate essentially the same question, is genuine scientific explanation possible if indeterminism is true? (3) Why should requirements of temporal asymmetry be imposed upon explanations but not upon arguments?

In addition to showing the untenability of the “third dogma,” this chapter signals the development of a causal theory of explanation that will supplement the simple statistical‐relevance (S‐R) model of explanation advocated in earlier works by the author.

Keywords:   asymmetry, empiricism, explanation, indeterminism, relevance, statistical‐relevance model of explanation, third dogma

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