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Selected Readings: The most detailed statement of Kitcher's position can be found in Kitcher, 1989. Salmon, 1989, pp. 94ff. contains a critical discussion of Friedman's version of the unificationist account of explanation but ends by advocating a “reapproachment” between unificationist approaches and Salmon's own causal mechanical model. Woodward, forthcoming contains additional criticisms of Kitcher's version of unificationism.

What can we conclude from this recounting of some of the more prominent recent attempts to construct models of scientific explanation? Of course, any effort at stock-taking will reflect a particular point of view, but with this caveat in mind, several observations Scientific software seem plausible, even if not completely uncontroversial.

The first concerns the role of causal information in scientific explanation. It is a plausible, although by no means inevitable, judgement.[ 20 ] that many of the difficulties faced by the models described above derive from their reliance on what appear to be inadequate treatments of causation and causal relevance. The problems of explanatory asymmetries and explanatory irrelevance described in section 2.5 seem to show that the holding of a law (understood as a regularity) between C and E is not sufficient for C to cause E; hence not a sufficient condition for C to figure in an explanation of E. If the argument of section 3.3 is correct, the fundamental problem with the SR model is that statistical relevance information is mathlab insufficient to fully capture causal information in the sense that different causal structures can be consistent with the same information about statistical relevance relationships. Similarly, the CM model faces the difficulty that information about causal processes and interactions is also insufficient to fully capture causal relevance relations and that there is a range of cases in which causal relationships hold between C and E (and hence in which C figures in an explanation of E) although there is no connecting causal process between C and E. Finally, a fundamental problem with unificationist models is that the content of our causal judgments does not seem to fall out of our efforts at unification, at least when unification is understood along the lines advocated by Kitcher. For example, as discussed above, considerations having to do with unification do not by themselves explain why it is appropriate to explain effects in terms of their causes rather than vice-versa.

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