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Explanatory asymmetries: laws of nature rehabilitated

Jansson, Lina

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The problem of explanatory non-symmetries provides the strongest reason to abandon the view that laws can figure in explanations without causal underpinnings. I argue that this problem can be overcome. The solution that I propose starts from noticing the importance of conditions of application when laws do explanatory work, and I go on to develop a notion of nomological (non-causal) dependence that can tackle the non-symmetry problem. The strategy is to show how a strong notion of counterfactual dependence as guaranteed by the laws is a plausible account of what we aim towards when we give law-based explanations. The aim of this project is not to deny that causal relations can do explanatory work but to restore laws of nature as capable of being explanatory even in the absence of any knowledge of causal underpinnings.

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date May 16, 2015
Publication Date Nov 1, 2015
Deposit Date Jul 12, 2016
Publicly Available Date Jul 12, 2016
Journal Journal of Philosophy
Print ISSN 0022-362X
Electronic ISSN 1939-8549
Publisher Journal of Philosophy
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 112
Issue 11
Public URL
Publisher URL
Additional Information This is the peer-reviewed version of the following article: Explanatory asymmetries: laws of nature rehabilitated, The Journal of Philosophy, v. 112, no. 11, November 2015 which has been published in final form at This article may be used for non-commercial purposes only.


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