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Invisible-Hand Explanations Reconsidered

Curren, Randall R. (1987) Invisible-Hand Explanations Reconsidered. Social Science Working Paper, 621. California Institute of Technology , Pasadena, CA. (Unpublished)

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Edna Ullmann-Margalit introduced the notion of an invisible hand explanation (I-H explanation) to the philosophical literature in 1978, and made a distinction between "aggregate" and "functional-evolutionary" (F-E) forms of I-H explanations. The present paper produces a substantially refined analysis of the forms and functions of I-H explanations. Sections (1) and (2) introduce the ideas of I-H and aggregate I-H explanation, respectively. Section (J) argues that no one form of explanation can serve the explanatory functions Ullmanri-Margalit attributes to aggregate explanations, and divides those explanatory functions between genetic and "systematic-dispositional" explanations. Section (4) identifies difficulties with the idea of F-E explanation in the social realm, and shows that any I-H explanations fitting the F-E mold would constitute simply a special class of "aggregate" explanation.

Item Type:Report or Paper (Discussion Paper)
Additional Information:I owe thanks to Edna Ullmann-Margalit, Merrilee Salmon, Sandra Mitchell, and especially Carl G. Hempel and Joseph Camp, for their encouragement and useful comments on earlier drafts of this paper. Paper was also put out as Humanities Working Paper 120.
Group:Social Science Working Papers
Series Name:Social Science Working Paper
Issue or Number:621
Record Number:CaltechAUTHORS:20170912-135330205
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Usage Policy:No commercial reproduction, distribution, display or performance rights in this work are provided.
ID Code:81369
Deposited By: Jacquelyn Bussone
Deposited On:12 Sep 2017 21:08
Last Modified:03 Oct 2019 18:42

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