Comets, Pollen, and Dreams Some Reflections on Scientific Explanation

Wesley C. Salmon

in Causality and Explanation

Published in print May 1998 | ISBN: 9780195108644
Published online November 2003 | e-ISBN: 9780199833627 | DOI:
Comets, Pollen, and Dreams Some Reflections on Scientific Explanation

Show Summary Details


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

Chapter.  10053 words. 

Subjects: Philosophy of Science

Full text: subscription required

How to subscribe Recommend to my Librarian

Buy this work at Oxford University Press »

Users without a subscription are not able to see the full content. Please, subscribe or login to access all content.