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On the explanatory depth and pragmatic value of coarse-grained, probabilistic, causal explanations

Kinney, David (2019) On the explanatory depth and pragmatic value of coarse-grained, probabilistic, causal explanations. Philosophy of Science, 86 (1). pp. 145-167. ISSN 0031-8248

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Identification Number: 10.1086/701072

Abstract

This article considers the thesis that a more proportional relationship between a cause and its effect yields a more abstract causal explanation of that effect, thereby producing a deeper explanation. This thesis has important implications for choosing the optimal granularity of explanation for a given explanandum. In this article, I argue that this thesis is not generally true of probabilistic causal relationships. In light of this finding, I propose a pragmatic measure of explanatory depth. This measure uses a decision-theoretic model of information pricing to determine the optimal granularity of explanation for a given explanandum, agent, and decision problem.

Item Type: Article
Additional Information: © 2019 Philosophy of Science Association
Divisions: Philosophy, Logic and Scientific Method
Subjects: Q Science > Q Science (General)
B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > B Philosophy (General)
Date Deposited: 05 Mar 2019 11:57
Last Modified: 22 May 2019 23:06
URI: http://eprints.lse.ac.uk/id/eprint/100190

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