Hesperus is Bosphorus

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Talk at Bogazici University, Alexander Reutlinger (Munich), “Explanation Beyond Causation – The Counterfactual Account of Non-Causal Explanations”

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Alexander Reutlinger, Munich Center for Mathematical Philosophy​
TB 130

Monday, January 5, 5pm

​”​Explanation Beyond Causation – The Counterfactual Account of Non-Causal Explanations​”
Abstract:
Since the early 2000s, non-causal explanations have re-entered the arena of philosophy of
science. The primary goal of discussing examples of non-causal explanations has been to show
that certain scientific explanations cannot be accommodated by the received account of scientific
explanation, the causal account. Hence, the main goal has been a negative one, i.e. to undermine
the causal account. The current debate is largely silent on a more positive and constructive
approach to non-causal explanations. The challenges for a constructive approach include: (1) to
provide an account of non-causal explanations, and (2) to provide criteria for distinguishing
causal and non-causal explanations. This talk addresses both challenges. Regarding challenge
(1), I argue that non-causal explanations work by revealing non-causal counterfactual
dependencies between explanandum and explanans. Such a counterfactual account of non-causal
explanations is an extension of Woodward’s (2003) causal version of the counterfactual account.
Hence, the counterfactual account provides a unifying framework for causal and non-causal
explanations – both are explanatory because they reveal counterfactual dependencies. Causal
explanations are explanatory in revealing causal counterfactual dependencies (based on causal
generalizations) between explanandum and explanans. Non-causal explanations are explanatory
in revealing non-causal counterfactual dependencies (based on non-causal generalizations)
between explanandum and explanans. The counterfactual account will be applied to purely
statistical explanations, renormalizations group explanations, and genuinely mathematical
explanations. Regarding challenge (2), I propose to distinguish causal and non-causal
explanations on the basis of so-called Russellian criteria of causation (including criteria such as
asymmetry, time-asymmetry, the distinctness and locality of causal relata, and so on).

​webpage:​

http://www.mcmp.philosophie.uni-muenchen.de/people/faculty/reutlinger/index.html

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Written by markedwardsteen

December 30, 2014 at 3:32 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

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