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Stability, Breadth and Guidance

Blanchard, Thomas and Vasilyeva, Nadya and Lombrozo, Tania (2018) Stability, Breadth and Guidance.


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Much recent work on explanation in the interventionist tradition emphasizes the
explanatory value of stable causal generalizations – i.e., causal generalizations that remain
true in a wide range of background circumstances. We argue that two separate
explanatory virtues are lumped together under the heading of `stability’. We call these
two virtues breadth and guidance respectively. In our view, these two virtues are
importantly distinct, but this fact is neglected or at least under-appreciated in the
literature on stability. We argue that an adequate theory of explanatory goodness should
recognize breadth and guidance as distinct virtues, as breadth and guidance track
different ideals of explanation, satisfy different cognitive and pragmatic ends, and play
different theoretical roles in (for example) helping us understand the explanatory value
of mechanisms. Thus keeping track of the distinction between these two forms of stability
yields a more accurate and perspicuous picture of the role that stability considerations
play in explanation.

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Item Type: Published Article or Volume
Blanchard, Thomastblancha@uni-koeln.de0000-0001-5002-7517
Vasilyeva, Nadya
Keywords: interventionism, causation, stability, guidance, explanation
Subjects: General Issues > Causation
General Issues > Explanation
Depositing User: Thomas Blanchard
Date Deposited: 26 May 2023 19:54
Last Modified: 26 May 2023 19:54
Item ID: 22140
Official URL:
DOI or Unique Handle:
Subjects: General Issues > Causation
General Issues > Explanation
Date: 2018

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