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A second, more radical possible conclusion is that the DN account of the goal or rationale of explanation is mistaken in some much more fundamental way and that the DN model does not even state necessary conditions for successful explanation. As noted above, unless the hidden structure argument is accepted, this conclusion is strongly suggested by examples like (2.4.1) (“The impact of my knee caused the tipping over of the inkwell”) which appear to involve explanation without the explicit citing of a law or a deductive structure. To assess whether the DN/IS model provides necessary conditions for explanation, we thus must consider the hidden structure strategy in more detail.
It might seem that the contention mathlab of the hidden structure strategy that singular causal explanations like (2.4.1) are implicit DN/IS explanations or sketches of such explanations is at best relevant to the question of whether the DNIS model provides an adequate reconstruction of this particular sort of explanation. In fact, however, Hempel's strategy of treating explanations as devices for conveying information, but in a “partial” or “incomplete” way, about underlying “ideal” explanations of a prima-facie quite different form that are at least partly epistemically hidden from those who use the original, non-ideal explanation has continued to be very popular in recent theorizing about scientific explanation. This strategy forms the basis, for example, for Peter Railton's (1978, 1981) contrast between an “ideal explanatory text” which contains all of the causal and nomological information relevant to some outcome LaTeX editor of interest and the “non-ideal” explanations like (2.4.1)that we actually give. According to Railton, the latter provide “explanatory information” in virtue of conveying information about some limited portion or aspect of the ideal text and are explanatory in virtue of doing so. The hidden structure strategy also plays an important role in the unificationist account of explanation developed by Philip Kitcher (1989) who likewise insists we must “distinguish between what is said on an occasion in which explanatory information is given and the ideal underlying explanation” (Kitcher, 1989, p. 414.) Indeed, any account of explanation that, like Kitcher's unificationist model, insists that laws (or generalizations of considerable generality) and deductive structure are necessary conditions for successful explanation will need to appeal to something like hidden structure strategy since it is generally accepted that there are many apparent explanations that do not conform to such conditions in their overt structure.
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