Document Type

Thesis

Degree

Master of Arts

Major

Philosophy

Date of Defense

4-23-2018

Graduate Advisor

Lauren Olin

Committee

Lauren Olin

Jon McGinnis

Gualtiero Piccinini

Abstract

For the past 40 years, causal-mechanical approaches to explanation in science have been the received view. In this paper, I will argue that causal-mechanical approaches to explanation are not the whole story; there is a notable class of explanations that I call constraining explanation. Constraining explanation do not work by describing some causal structure; rather they work by highlighting mathematical constraints on what kinds of structure there can be. Constraining explanations are different that causal explanations because they give a kind of modal knowledge that causal-mechanical explanation alone cannot give.

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