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Abstract: A common argument against explanatory reductionism is that higher-level explanations are sometimes or always preferable because they are more general than reductive explanations. Here I challenge two basic assumptions that are needed for that argument to succeed. It cannot be assumed that higher-level explanations are more general than their lower-level alternatives or that higher-level explanations are general in the right way to be explanatory. I suggest a novel form of pluralism regarding levels of explanation, according to which explanations at different levels are preferable in different circumstances because they offer different types of generality, which are appropriate in different circumstances of explanation.
Comment: An interesting anti-anti-reductionist article. Would be useful in a discussion of explanatory power or levels of explanation in a philosophy of science course.Export citation in BibTeX formatExport text citationView this text on PhilPapersExport citation in Reference Manager formatExport citation in EndNote formatExport citation in Zotero format
Potochnik, Angela. Levels of Explanation Reconceived
2010, Philosophy of Science 77(1): 59-72.
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