Chapter

The Simulacrum Account of Explanation

Nancy Cartwright

in How the Laws of Physics Lie

Published in print June 1983 | ISBN: 9780198247043
Published online November 2003 | e-ISBN: 9780191597152 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/0198247044.003.0009
 The Simulacrum Account of Explanation

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The very paucity of bridge principles in physics is important for increasing the explanatory power of fundamental theories, given that physics usually employs a few well‐understood principles to model many different aspects of physical processes. However, this also implies that the fundamental laws of physics do not govern objects in the real world, but rather only objects in models. Consequently, the proper account of explanation in science is the ‘simulacrum’ view. On this account, to explain is to construct a model that fits the phenomenon into the basic framework of the theory, and then to derive analogues for its phenomenological laws.

Keywords: explanation in science; laser; models; phenomenological laws; simulacrum theory of explanation

Chapter.  7503 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Philosophy of Science

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