The Formulation of Why‐Questions

Wesley C. Salmon

in Causality and Explanation

Published in print May 1998 | ISBN: 9780195108644
Published online November 2003 | e-ISBN: 9780199833627 | DOI:
The Formulation of Why‐Questions

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Is a response to a criticism, posed by an anthropologist (M. Cartmill), of the Statistical Relevance (S‐R) model of explanation. The author claims that the objection does not hold. Although he believes that the model must be supplemented by causal considerations, he maintains that the S‐R schema constitutes a correct basis on which acceptable explanations can be erected (see Ch. 22). In answering Cartmill's question, the author examines the high‐probability requirement of Hempel's Inductive Statistical (I‐S) model, and clarifies some fundamental features of the S‐R model. His response connects directly to van Fraassen's pragmatic theory, which is discussed from a different angle in Ch. 11.

Keywords: Cartmill; explanation; Van Fraassen; Hempel; High‐probability Requirement; inductive–statistical model; pragmatism; statistical relevance

Chapter.  2727 words. 

Subjects: Philosophy of Science

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