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The Role of Unification in Micro-Explanations of Physical Laws

Weber, Erik and Lefevere, Merel (2014) The Role of Unification in Micro-Explanations of Physical Laws. THEORIA. An International Journal for Theory, History and Foundations of Science, 29 (1). pp. 41-56. ISSN 2171-679X

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Abstract

In the literature on scientific explanation, there is a classical distinction between explanations of facts and explanations of laws. This paper is about explanations of laws, more specifically mechanistic explanations of laws. We investigate whether providing unificatory information in mechanistic explanations of laws has a surplus value. Unificatory information is information about how the mechanism that explains the law which is our target relates to other mechanisms (which explain other laws). We argue that providing unificatory information can lead to explanations with more explanatory power (we use Jim Woodward’s concept of explanatory power for that) and that it may lead to more strongly supported explanations


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Item Type: Published Article or Volume
Creators:
CreatorsEmailORCID
Weber, ErikErik.Weber@UGent.be
Lefevere, MerelMerel.Lefevere@ugent.be
Additional Information: ISSN: 0495-4548 (print)
Keywords: causal mechanisms; explanation of laws; explanatory virtues; unification
Subjects: General Issues > Explanation
General Issues > Laws of Nature
Specific Sciences > Physics
Depositing User: Unnamed user with email theoria@ehu.es
Date Deposited: 06 May 2014 11:26
Last Modified: 06 May 2014 11:26
Item ID: 10652
Journal or Publication Title: THEORIA. An International Journal for Theory, History and Foundations of Science
Publisher: Euskal Herriko Unibertsitatea / Universidad del País Vasco
Official URL: http://www.ehu.es/ojs/index.php/THEORIA/article/vi...
DOI or Unique Handle: 10.1387/theoria.7054
Subjects: General Issues > Explanation
General Issues > Laws of Nature
Specific Sciences > Physics
Date: January 2014
Page Range: pp. 41-56
Volume: 29
Number: 1
ISSN: 2171-679X
URI: http://philsci-archive.pitt.edu/id/eprint/10652

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