[PAST EVENT] Philosophy Colloquium: James Binkoski  (Dartmouth), "Explanation and Ontic Dependence" 

November 30, 2018
3:30pm - 5pm
James Blair Hall, Room 205
250 James Blair Dr
Williamsburg, VA 23185Map this location
Access & Features
  • Open to the public

James Binkoski from the Dept. of Philosophy at Dartmouth College will present "Explanation and Ontic Dependence." Professor Binkoski works in physics and metaphysics. All invited!

Abstract of the talk:

The received view on scientific explanation is that scientific explanations work by charting relations of causal dependence--that we explain why things are the way they are by figuring out what caused them to be so. But not every scientific explanation is a causal explanation. So if the goal is a comprehensive account of scientific explanation, then the causal theory won't do.  

Toward a more comprehensive account, I'll defend the view that scientific explanations work by charting relations of ontic dependence. In brief, my theory says that X is explanatorily relevant with respect to Y just in case Y depends on X. I'll then argue that we ought to be pluralists with respect to dependence; in some cases, the dependence at issue will be causal, in other cases nomic, and in other cases metaphysical. To defend the view, I'll make the case that a dependence account of explanation (1) is capable of bringing a broad range of cases under a single theory, and (2) out-performs rival theories, including unificationist and counterfactual theories of explanation.


Joshua Gert [[jngert]] or Debbie Wilson [[dswils]]