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Causal Explanation and Scientific Realism

Hitchcock, Christopher Read (1992) Causal Explanation and Scientific Realism. Erkenntnis, 37 (2). pp. 151-178. ISSN 0165-0106.

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It is widely believed that many of the competing accounts of scientific explanation have ramifications which are relevant to the scientific realism debate. I claim that the two issues are orthogonal. For definiteness, I consider Cartwright's argument that causal explanations secure belief in theoretical entities. In Section I, van Fraassen's anti-realism is reviewed; I argue that this anti-realism is, prima facie, consistent with a causal account of explanation. Section II reviews Cartwright's arguments. In Section III, it is argued that causal explanations do not license the sort of inferences to theoretical entities that would embarass the anti-realist. Section IV examines the epistemic commitments involved in accepting a causal explanation. Section V presents my conclusions: contra Cartwright, the anti-realist may incorporate a causal account of explanation into his vision of science in an entirely natural way.

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Additional Information:© 1992 Kluwer Academic Publishers. Manuscript submitted September 19, 1990.
Issue or Number:2
Record Number:CaltechAUTHORS:20140408-093857588
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Usage Policy:No commercial reproduction, distribution, display or performance rights in this work are provided.
ID Code:44741
Deposited On:15 Apr 2014 14:32
Last Modified:03 Oct 2019 06:21

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