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Typical: A Theory of Typicality and Typicality Explanations

Wilhelm, Isaac (2019) Typical: A Theory of Typicality and Typicality Explanations. The British Journal for the Philosophy of Science. ISSN 1464-3537

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Abstract

Typicality is routinely invoked in everyday contexts: bobcats are typically short-tailed; people are typically less than seven feet tall. Typicality is invoked in scientific contexts as well: typical gases expand; typical quantum systems exhibit probabilistic behavior. And typicality facts like these support many explanations, both quotidian and scientific. But what is it for something to be typical? And how do typicality facts explain? In this paper, I propose a general theory of typicality. I analyze the notion of a typical property. I provide a formalism for typicality explanations, and I give an account of why typicality explanations are explanatory. Along the way, I show how typicality facts explain a variety of phenomena, from everyday phenomena to the statistical mechanical behavior of gases. Finally, I argue that typicality is not the same thing as probability.


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Item Type: Published Article or Volume
Creators:
CreatorsEmailORCID
Wilhelm, Isaacisaac.wilhelm@rutgers.edu
Keywords: typicality, philosophy of science, philosophy of physics, metaphysics
Subjects: General Issues > Scientific Metaphysics
General Issues > Explanation
Specific Sciences > Physics > Quantum Mechanics
Specific Sciences > Physics > Statistical Mechanics/Thermodynamics
Depositing User: Isaac Wilhelm
Date Deposited: 03 May 2019 21:57
Last Modified: 03 May 2019 21:57
Item ID: 15973
Journal or Publication Title: The British Journal for the Philosophy of Science
Publisher: Oxford Academic
Official URL: https://academic.oup.com/bjps/advance-article/doi/...
DOI or Unique Handle: https://doi.org/10.1093/bjps/axz016
Subjects: General Issues > Scientific Metaphysics
General Issues > Explanation
Specific Sciences > Physics > Quantum Mechanics
Specific Sciences > Physics > Statistical Mechanics/Thermodynamics
Date: April 2019
ISSN: 1464-3537
URI: http://philsci-archive.pitt.edu/id/eprint/15973

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