Causal Explanation: Background and Criticism

James Woodward

in Making Things Happen

Published in print January 2004 | ISBN: 9780195155273
Published online January 2005 | e-ISBN: 9780199835089 | DOI:

Series: Oxford Studies in the Philosophy of Science

 						Causal Explanation: Background and Criticism

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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

Chapter.  18183 words. 

Subjects: Philosophy of Science

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