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Degree of explanation

Northcott, Robert (2012) Degree of explanation. Synthese , ISSN 0039-7857.

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Partial explanations are everywhere. That is, explanations citing causes that explain some but not all of an effect are ubiquitous across science, and these in turn rely on the notion of degree of explanation. I argue that current accounts are seriously deficient. In particular, they do not incorporate adequately the way in which a cause’s explanatory importance varies with choice of explanandum. Using influential recent contrastive theories, I develop quantitative definitions that remedy this lacuna, and relate it to existing measures of degree of causation. Among other things, this reveals the precise role here of chance, as well as bearing on the relation between causal explanation and causation itself.

Item Type: Article
Additional Information: The original publication is available at
Keyword(s) / Subject(s): Causation, Explanation, Explanandum-dependence, Degree of explanation, Causal strength, Probability
School or Research Centre: Birkbeck Schools and Research Centres > School of Social Sciences, History and Philosophy > Philosophy
Depositing User: Robert Northcott
Date Deposited: 31 Jul 2012 11:46
Last Modified: 08 May 2013 09:20

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