Ideas of Michael Stanford, by Theme

[British, b.1923, Lecturer at the University of the West of England, Bristol.]

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14. Science / D. Explanation / 1. Explanation / b. Aims of explanation
Explanation is for curiosity, control, understanding, to make meaningful, or to give authority
     Full Idea: There are a number of reasons why we explain: out of sheer curiosity, to increase our control of a situation, to help understanding by simplifying or making familiar, to confer meaning or significance, and to give scientific authority to some statement.
     From: Michael Stanford (Explanation: the state of play [1991], p.172)
Audience-relative explanation, or metaphysical explanation based on information?
     Full Idea: Rather than an 'interest-relative' notion of explanation (Putnam), it can be informational content which makes an explanation, which is an 'audience-invariant' contraint, which is not pragmatic, but mainly epistemological and also partly metaphysical.
     From: Michael Stanford (Explanation: the state of play [1991], p.172)
     A reaction: [compressed summary of Ruben 1990] Examples given are that Rome burning explains Nero fiddling, even if no one ever says so, and learning that George III had porphyria explains his madness.
14. Science / D. Explanation / 2. Types of Explanation / j. Explanations by reduction
We can explain by showing constitution, as well as showing causes
     Full Idea: The powerful engine of my car can be explained by an examination of each of its parts, but it is not caused by them. They do not cause the engine; they constitute it.
     From: Michael Stanford (Explanation: the state of play [1991], p.174)
     A reaction: [example from Ruben 1990:221] This could be challenged, since there is clearly a causal connection between the constitution and the whole. We distinguish engine parts which contribute to the power from those which do not.