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Contrastive Explanation and the Demons of Determinism

Christopher Hitchcock
The British Journal for the Philosophy of Science
Vol. 50, No. 4 (Dec., 1999), pp. 585-612
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/40072258
Page Count: 28
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Contrastive Explanation and the Demons of Determinism
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Abstract

It is tempting to think that if an outcome had some probability of not occurring, then we cannot explain why that outcome in fact occurred. Despite this intuition, most philosophers of science have come to admit the possibility of indeterministic explanation. Yet some of them continue to hold that if an outcome was not determined, it cannot be explained why that outcome rather than some other occurred. I argue that this is an untenable compromise: if indeterministic explanation is possible, then indeterministic contrastive explanation is possible too. In order to defend this conclusion, I develop an account of contrastive explanation.

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