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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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Why Ask, “Why?”?

Why Ask, “Why?”?

An Inquiry Concerning Scientific Explanation

Chapter:
(p.125) 8 Why Ask, “Why?”?
Source:
Causality and Explanation
Author(s):

Wesley C. Salmon

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/0195108647.003.0009

Attempts to provide the general outlines of a causal theory of scientific explanation that can incorporate the virtues of both the standard inferential view and previous causal accounts. The new theory relies heavily upon a distinction between causal processes and causal interactions, and upon the principle of the common cause. Two types of causal forks, conjunctive and interactive, are distinguished; each is seen to have a distinct function in the account of scientific explanation. The common cause principle is invoked to show how unobservable entities play a fundamental explanatory role, thereby clarifying the explanatory power of theories.

Keywords:   causal process, causation, common cause, conjunctive fork, explanation, interaction, interactive fork

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