Philosophy Dictionary of Arguments

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Explanation: making a statement in relation to an event, a state, a change or an action that was described before by a deviating statement. The statement will often try to involve circumstances, history, logical premises, causes and causality. See also description, statements, theories, understanding, literal truth, best explanation, causality, cause, completeness.

Annotation: The above characterizations of concepts are neither definitions nor exhausting presentations of problems related to them. Instead, they are intended to give a short introduction to the contributions below. – Lexicon of Arguments.

Author Item Summary Meta data
I 3
Explanation/Description/Physics/Cartwright: in modern physics, the phenomenological laws are considered as being descriptive, the fundamental laws as being explanatory - Problem: the explanatory power comes at the cost of the adequacy of the description - 1) explanatory power (of laws) does not speak for truth - 2) even for falsehood, because we need ceteris paribus laws - 3) the semblance of truth comes from a false explanation model: wrong connection of laws with reality.
I 4
Cartwright instead: Def "Simulacrum" View/Cartwright: of explanation: Thesis: the way from theory to reality is this: theory > model > phenomenological law - Phenomenological Laws/Cartwright: are true of the objects of reality (or can be).
Fundamental Laws/Cartwright: are only true of the objects in the model - E.: is not a guide to the truth.
I 11
E/Physics/Cartwright: wrong question: "which is the correct equation?" - Different models bring different aspects - causal explanation: not in scientific practice, we do not tell sometimes one, sometimes another causal story.
I 44
E/CartwrightVsTradition: has nothing to do with truth - ((s)> M.Williams/Horwich).
I 47
E/Cartwright: after the laws of nature (LoN) are known, we still have to decide which factors should occur in an explanation - the decision of which is, however, not suggested by our knowledge of the laws of nature.
I 50
Laws of Nature are never sufficient to explain something in a particular moment - the reasons to believe in them are not normal reasons, because we have never tested them - only reasons: explanation strategy - I 52 E: is still needed even after complete description.
I 70
E/All/Generalization/VsSuper Law/C: E.g. "Why is the quail in my garden shaking its head?" - "Because all of them do it" - no explanation! - Nor: E.g. "All carbon atoms have 5 energy levels" - Super laws in turn require the application of individual laws - and these do not represent facts.
I 73
Explanation/Cartwright: Uses causes - ((s) not laws) - (EmpiricismVsCauses).
I 92
E/LoN/Cartwright: it is not the fundamental laws (laws of nature) that I need for the explanation, but E.g. properties of electrons - plus assumptions about the specific situation.
I 94 f
E/Grünbaum: a more comprehensive law G explains a less comprehensive law L which it contains not through the causes of L.
I 96
E/Duhem: does not draw a "veil" from reality - Explanation/Cartwright: explaining a set of phenomenological laws means giving a physical theory of them - without explaining these laws.
I 103
E/W. Salmon/Richard Jeffries: E. are no arguments.
I 152
E/Duhem: Organization (order of knowledge).
Hacking I 96~
Explanation/Cartwright/Fraassen: if something is an explanation, it is no reason to believe it.
I 99
Anti-Realism: E are not a feature of the truth but of adequacy.

Explanation of symbols: Roman numerals indicate the source, arabic numerals indicate the page number. The corresponding books are indicated on the right hand side. ((s)…): Comment by the sender of the contribution.
The note [Author1]Vs[Author2] or [Author]Vs[term] is an addition from the Dictionary of Arguments. If a German edition is specified, the page numbers refer to this edition.

Car I
N. Cartwright
How the laws of physics lie Oxford New York 1983

CartwrightR I
R. Cartwright
A Neglected Theory of Truth. Philosophical Essays, Cambridge/MA pp. 71-93
Theories of Truth, Paul Horwich, Aldershot 1994

CartwrightR II
R. Cartwright
Ontology and the theory of meaning Chicago 1954

Hacking I
I. Hacking
Representing and Intervening. Introductory Topics in the Philosophy of Natural Science, Cambridge/New York/Oakleigh 1983
German Edition:
Einführung in die Philosophie der Naturwissenschaften Stuttgart 1996

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Ed. Martin Schulz, access date 2019-07-18
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