Welcome to the new version of CaltechAUTHORS. Login is currently restricted to library staff. If you notice any issues, please email coda@library.caltech.edu
Published June 2003 | public
Journal Article

Explanatory Generalizations, Part II: Plumbing Explanatory Depth


[Introduction] Some explanations are deep and powerful: Newton's explanation of the tides, Maxwell's explanation of the propagation of light, Einstein's explanation of the advance of the perihelion of Mercury. Other explanations, while deserving of the name, are superficial and shallow: Bob lashed out at Tom because he was angry, the car accelerated because Mary depressed the gas pedal with her foot, the salt dissolved because it was placed in water. We take this intuition to be very natural and widely shared. Yet in the vast philosophical literature on explanation, there have been precious few attempts to give any systematic account of this notion of explanatory depth. In this paper, we will provide such an account from within the framework of the manipulationist account of explanation presented in a companion paper (Woodward and Hitchcock 2003, hereafter referred to as EG1; see also Woodward 1997a, 2000).

Additional Information

© 2003 Blackwell Publishing Inc. Article first published online: 13 May 2003. We would like to thank Nancy Cartwright, Malcolm Forster, Alan Hájek, Dan Hausman, Richard Healey, Paul Humphreys, and Judea Pearl for helpful comments. Woodward's contribution to this paper was supported in part by the National Science Foundation (SBR-9320097).

Additional details

August 19, 2023
October 26, 2023