Explanation Beyond Causation 2014

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Explanation Beyond Causation
(October 23-24, 2014)

Idea and Motivation

The presently received view regarding the question “what is a scientific explanation?” is the causal model of explanation. According to this model, the sciences explain by providing information about causes and causal mechanisms. However, in the recent literature, an increasing number of philosophers argue that the explanatory practices in the sciences are considerably richer than the causal model suggests. These philosophers argue that there are non-causal explanations that cannot be accommodated by the causal model. Case studies of non-causal explanations come in a surprisingly diverse variety: for instance, the non-causal character of scientific explanations is based on the explanatory use of non-causal laws, purely mathematical facts, symmetry principles, inter-theoretic relations, renormalization group methods, and so forth. However, if there are non-causal ways of explaining, then the causal model cannot be the whole story about scientific explanation. The goal of the conference is to shed light on, by and large, unexplored philosophical terrain: that is, to develop a philosophical account of various aspects of non-causal explanations in the sciences.