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On the Explanatory Depth and Pragmatic Value of Coarse-Grained, Probabilistic, Causal Explanations

Kinney, David (2018) On the Explanatory Depth and Pragmatic Value of Coarse-Grained, Probabilistic, Causal Explanations. [Preprint]

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Abstract

This article considers the popular thesis that a more proportional relationship between a cause and its effect yields a more abstract causal explanation of that effect, which in turn produces a deeper explanation. This thesis is taken to have important implications for choosing the optimal granularity of explanation for a given explanandum. In this article, I argue that this thesis is not generally true of probabilistic causal relationships. In light of this finding, I propose a pragmatic, interest-relative measure of explanatory depth. This measure uses a decision-theoretic model of information pricing to determine the optimal granularity of explanation for a given explanandum, agent, and decision problem.


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Item Type: Preprint
Creators:
CreatorsEmailORCID
Kinney, Davidd.b.kinney@lse.ac.uk
Keywords: explanatory depth; granularity; causal explanation; variable choice
Subjects: General Issues > Causation
General Issues > Explanation
Depositing User: David Kinney
Date Deposited: 27 Mar 2018 23:56
Last Modified: 27 Mar 2018 23:56
Item ID: 14497
Subjects: General Issues > Causation
General Issues > Explanation
Date: 27 March 2018
URI: http://philsci-archive.pitt.edu/id/eprint/14497

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