Povich, Mark
(2019)
The Narrow Ontic Counterfactual Account of Distinctively Mathematical Explanation.
The British Journal for the Philosophy of Science.
ISSN 14643537
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Abstract
An account of distinctively mathematical explanation (DME) should satisfy three desiderata: it should account for the modal import of some DMEs; it should distinguish uses of mathematics in explanation that are distinctively mathematical from those that are not (Baron [2016]); and it should also account for the directionality of DMEs (Craver and Povich [2017]). Baron’s (forthcoming) deductivemathematical account, because it is modeled on the deductivenomological account, is unlikely to satisfy these desiderata. I provide a counterfactual account of DME, the Narrow Ontic Counterfactual Account (NOCA), that can satisfy all three desiderata. NOCA appeals to ontic considerations to account for explanatory asymmetry and ground the relevant counterfactuals. NOCA provides a unification of the causal and the noncausal, the ontic and the modal, by identifying a common core that all explanations share and in virtue of which they are explanatory.
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