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Explanation Beyond CausationPhilosophical Perspectives on Non-Causal Explanations$
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Alexander Reutlinger and Juha Saatsi

Print publication date: 2018

Print ISBN-13: 9780198777946

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: June 2018

DOI: 10.1093/oso/9780198777946.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM OXFORD SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (oxford.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright Oxford University Press, 2021. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in OSO for personal use. date: 27 September 2021

Searching for Non-Causal Explanations in a Sea of Causes

Searching for Non-Causal Explanations in a Sea of Causes

(p.141) 7 Searching for Non-Causal Explanations in a Sea of Causes
Explanation Beyond Causation

Alisa Bokulich

Oxford University Press

In the spirit of explanatory pluralism, this chapter argues that causal and non-causal explanations of a phenomenon are compatible, each being useful for bringing out different sorts of insights. First the chapter reviews the author’s model-based account of scientific explanation, which can accommodate causal and non-causal explanations alike. Then it distills from the literature an important core conception of non-causal explanation. This non-causal form of model-based explanation is illustrated using the example of how Earth scientists in a subfield known as aeolian geomorphology are explaining the formation of regularly-spaced sand ripples. The chapter concludes that even when it comes to everyday “medium-sized dry goods” such as sand ripples, where there is a complete causal story to be told, one can find examples of non-causal scientific explanations.

Keywords:   sand ripples, aeolian geomorphology, models, scientific explanation, non-causal explanation, causal explanation, explanatory pluralism, pattern formation, defects, model-based explanation

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