Chapter

Explanatory Knowledge and Metaphysical Dependence

Jaegwon Kim

in Essays in the Metaphysics of Mind

Published in print October 2010 | ISBN: 9780199585878
Published online January 2011 | e-ISBN: 9780191595349 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199585878.003.0009
Explanatory Knowledge and Metaphysical Dependence

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“Explanatory Knowledge and Metaphysical Dependence” argues that a theory of explanation should above all be a theory of explanatory knowledge, and that as such it should be a part of theory of knowledge. Discovering or learning an explanation is a cognitive achievement; it must represent an improvement in our epistemic situation vis‐à‐vis the event or phenomenon being explained. If so, what is the net gain in knowledge represented by an explanation? A theory of explanation should tell us something about that. Moreover, explanation is supposed to enhance our understanding of the phenomenon explained, and explanatory understanding must be an essential component of explanatory knowledge. Thus, a theory of explanation must say something informative about what understanding is – what it consists in and what separates genuine understanding from understanding that is merely illusory. The paper also includes a discussion of the unification approach to explanation and a proposal for a metaphysical theory of explanatory relations.

Keywords: explanation; theory of explanation; understanding; explanatory knowledge; explanatory realism; explanatory relation; causal explanation; metaphysical dependence; model of explanation

Chapter.  8037 words. 

Subjects: Philosophy of Mind

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