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Explanation, unification, and content

By Ken Gemes


The following is an essay on the notion of scientific explanation as unification. In it a new notion of (logical) content is used to explicate Michael Friedman's notion of "k-atomicity," and to explicate the notion of the surplus content of hypothesis h relative to evidence e. From this basis an analysis of unification as theoretical reduction is advanced. A second notion of unification, unification as reconciling prima facie incompatible statements, is introduced again with the aid of this new notion of content. More generally, it is argued that rather than seek the essence of scientific explanation we should carefully catalog the various distinct explanatory virtues. Finally it is argue that in particular philosophical explanations put a high premium on the quality of unification through showing how to make compatible seemingly irreconcilable claims

Topics: phil
Publisher: Wiley
Year: 1994
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