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Causality and Explanation$
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Wesley C. Salmon

Print publication date: 1998

Print ISBN-13: 9780195108644

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: November 2003

DOI: 10.1093/0195108647.001.0001

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Scientific Explanation

Scientific Explanation

Causation and Unification

(p.68) 4 Scientific Explanation
Causality and Explanation

Wesley C. Salmon

Oxford University Press

The unification tradition embraces the idea that scientific explanation consists in showing that apparently disparate phenomena can be seen to be fundamentally similar. Michael Friedman and Philip Kitcher, who accept different versions of this tradition, are contemporary proponents of the view. The causal tradition, advanced by Michael Scriven, and embraced in a modified version by the author, says – roughly and briefly – that to explain an event is to identify its cause. This chapter explores the possibility of rapprochement between these two dominant traditions regarding scientific explanation that have generally been seen as mutually incompatible. It shows how progress in the development of both approaches has eradicated many – perhaps all – of the grounds for conflict between them.

Keywords:   causation, explanation, unification

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