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Causal and constitutive explanation compared
Linköping University, Department of Management and Engineering, The Institute for Analytical Sociology, IAS. Linköping University, Faculty of Arts and Sciences.ORCID iD: 0000-0002-5237-9695
2013 (English)In: Erkenntnis, ISSN 0165-0106, E-ISSN 1572-8420, Vol. 78, p. 277-297-Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

This article compares causal and constitutive explanation. While scientific inquiry usually addresses both causal and constitutive questions, making the distinction is crucial for a detailed understanding of scientific questions and their interrelations. These explanations have different kinds of explananda and they track different sorts of dependencies. Constitutive explanations do not address events or behaviors, but causal capacities. While there are some interesting relations between building and causal manipulation, causation and constitution are not to be confused. Constitution is a synchronous and asymmetric relation between relata that cannot be conceived as independent existences. However, despite their metaphysical differences, the same key ideas about explanation largely apply to both. Causal and constitutive explanations face similar challenges (such as the problems of relevance and explanatory regress) and both are in the business of mapping networks of counterfactual dependence—i.e. mechanisms—although the relevant counterfactuals are of a different sort. In the final section the issue of developmental explanation is discussed. It is argued that developmental explanations deserve their own place in taxonomy of explanations, although ultimately developmental dependencies can be analyzed as combinations of causal and constitutive dependencies. Hence, causal and constitutive explanation are distinct, but not always completely separate forms of explanation.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2013. Vol. 78, p. 277-297-
Keywords [en]
Causal Explanation, Multiple Realization, Counterfactual Dependence, Causal History, Explanatory Relevance
National Category
Philosophy
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:liu:diva-156286DOI: 10.1007/s10670-013-9513-9OAI: oai:DiVA.org:liu-156286DiVA, id: diva2:1303970
Funder
Riksbankens Jubileumsfond, M12-0301:1Available from: 2019-04-11 Created: 2019-04-11 Last updated: 2019-04-11

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Ylikoski, Petri

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CiteExportLink to record
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Cite
Citation style
  • apa
  • harvard1
  • ieee
  • modern-language-association-8th-edition
  • vancouver
  • oxford
  • Other style
More styles
Language
  • de-DE
  • en-GB
  • en-US
  • fi-FI
  • nn-NO
  • nn-NB
  • sv-SE
  • Other locale
More languages
Output format
  • html
  • text
  • asciidoc
  • rtf