Kareem Khalifa F'17
Frederick Burkhardt Residential Fellowships for Recently Tenured Scholars 2017
Explanation as Inferential Practice
This project develops and defends a new philosophical account of scientific explanation. Contrary to the dominant alternatives, the primary function of explanations is neither the representation of causal mechanisms nor the unification of scientific knowledge. Rather, explanations enable the expression of certain rules of scientific inference—they make scientists’ ways of reasoning explicit. This account is broad enough to cover the diversity of explanations spanning the social and natural sciences. It also has implications for explanations’ role in inductive inference, the social dimensions of knowledge, and science’s prospects of accurately representing the world.