Notes on explanation: C. Extensions

(3rd installment of 1994 notes on explanation in the social sciences)

C.  Extensions

6a.  Given that heuristics about simplification can factor in the explainer’s intended audience (see almost all the items in B), there is room for reflexivity, that is, for examining the ways the explainer produces the appearances of necessity and sufficiency.

b) Reflexivity is not a necessary component of explanation, but one that might be elicited by the audience or undertaken to preempt the audience’s call for it.

7.  The framework in B for social explanation also applies to natural scientific explanation, with the following modifications:

a) In natural science item 4′ about what appears changeable is grounded in repeatable interventions;

b) Conversely, a condition can appear unchangeable if control can be achieved so that the focal causes can be changed while the background controlled.  In this sense the causes of natural science are not causes in themselves, but causes in combination with controlled background conditions;

c) In natural science explanations tend not to become a condition involved in further explanations.  For example, gravity operates independently of its self-understanding or of our representations of it.  In social science there are degrees of independence, but zero dependence is not the norm.

(my notes then include many items for further development, but my attention turned elsewhere…)


One thought on “Notes on explanation: C. Extensions

  1. Pingback: Notes on explanation: B. A series of modifications to the base-line « Intersecting Processes

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