Partial and Complete Explanations


in The Freedom of the Will

Published in print September 1970 | ISBN: 9780198243434
Published online October 2011 | e-ISBN: 9780191680687 | DOI:
Partial and Complete Explanations

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Explanations in everyday life are not static, not always quite all right just as they are, but partial, and often in need of being supplemented or replaced by another. The context of question and answer is a dynamic one, which enables us, and on occasion requires us, to move from one explanation to another. Quite apart from philosophical predilections, we have an urge on occasion to amplify explanations, and a hankering for complete explanations which need no further filling out. It is not metaphysical madness but an entirely normal procedure to seek to go from one explanation to another, better one. There cannot be more than one most fundamental form of explanation. Metaphysicians who think they have found the fundamental form, will have to assimilate, incorporate, reduce, or explain away, all other types of explanation. Metaphysics apart, it is not obvious whether we can have more than one complete explanation of the same thing.

Keywords: partial explanation; complete explanation; metaphysics

Chapter.  2617 words. 

Subjects: Metaphysics

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