Chapter

Explanations Explained

John Levi Martin

in The Explanation of Social Action

Published in print August 2011 | ISBN: 9780199773312
Published online May 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780199897223 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199773312.003.0009
Explanations Explained

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Because we accept an incoherent idea of casualty as the heart of our understanding of explanation, our theory of explanation is as bizarre as it is useless—a sense in which the attributes of persons (“variables”) cause changes in their other attributes. The sense of explanation that is implied by the preceding chapters, however, is both in accord with everyday usage and does not involve the formation of paradoxes. To explain is to make regularity intuitively accessible, and the best model for regularity is that of a game in which rules have no more constraint than does any other semiotic system. Violation of semiotic rules does not destroy the possibility of communication; rather it is itself a form of indexical communication. Rather than explanation meaning the foisting of counterintuitive abstractions on the acts of a disbelieving laity, it refers to the ability to successfully inhabit, objectify and generalize the phenomenological world and its imperatives for action.

Keywords: explanation; criticism; laws; intuitive accessibility; concrete

Chapter.  15278 words. 

Subjects: Social Theory

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