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Fr. 774

April 5, 2017

What makes for the best explanatory strategy? Should one favour conceptual simplicity and theoretical parsimony? Must one privilege instead explanatory power and predictive capacity? Additionally, supposing that one prioritizes the latter over the former, must one then further distinguish between strategies which maintain either explanatory monism or explanatory pluralism?

Explanatory monism:

  • “For explananda A-F, one explanans covers equally well in all areas.”

Explanatory pluralism:

  • Spinozist attributes: “For explananda A-F, all explanantia cover equally well in all areas.”
  • Insulated parallels: “For explananda A-F, each explanans covers better in separate areas.”
  • Overlapping cross-cuts: “For explananda A-F, all explanantia cover equally well in some areas but worse in others.”
  • Mixed regimes: “For explananda A-F, some explanantia cover better in separate areas while other explanantia cover equally well in some areas but worse in others.”

Notably, this leaves us with such important questions as the following:

  • If the trousers are held up by belt, buckles and suspenders all at once, are all doing equally worthy work?
  • Who determines which explains what? From what broader theoretical perspective might the explanatory task be divvied up?
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