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Making Things HappenA Theory of Causal Explanation$
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James Woodward

Print publication date: 2004

Print ISBN-13: 9780195155273

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: January 2005

DOI: 10.1093/0195155270.001.0001

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Causal Explanation: Background and Criticism

Causal Explanation: Background and Criticism

Chapter:
(p.152) 4 Causal Explanation: Background and Criticism
Source:
Making Things Happen
Author(s):

James Woodward (Contributor Webpage)

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/0195155270.003.0004

This chapter explores the philosophical background to the notion of causal explanation, focusing on the Deductive-Nomological Model of explanation and the role of laws in explanation and in causal claims. A number of different theses about the role of laws are distinguished: the thesis that at least one law underlies every true causal or explanatory claim, the semantic thesis that all causal claims entail the existence of laws, in virtue of their meaning, the epistemological thesis that knowledge of laws is necessary for establishing causal claims, and the explanation thesis that laws are part of every acceptable causal explanation. Only the first “underlying” thesis is defensible.

Keywords:   Deductive-Nomological model, laws, underlying thesis, epistemological thesis, explanation thesis

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