Unification and Explanation: Explanation as a Prototype Concept. A Reply to Weber and van Dyck, Gijsberg, and de Regt

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THEORIA. An International Journal for Theory, History and Foundations of Science, ISSN: 0495-4548, Vol: 29, Issue: 1, Page: 57-70

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Schurz, Gerhard
UPV/EHU Press; Euskal Herriko Unibertsitatea / Universidad del PaĆ­s Vasco
Arts and Humanities
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In this paper I investigate unification as a virtue of explanation. In the first part of the paper (sec. 1-2) I give a brief exposition of the unification account of Schurz and Lambert (1994) and Schurz (1999). I illustrate the advantages of this account in comparison to the older unification accounts of Friedman (1974) and Kitcher (1981). In the second part (sec. 3) I discuss several comments and objections to the SchurzLambert account that were raised by Weber and van Dyck (2002), Gijsbers (2007) and de Regt (2005). In the third and final part (sec. 4), I argue that explanation should be understood as a prototype concept which contains nomic expectability, causality and unification as prototypical virtues of explanations, although none of these virtues provides a sufficient and necessary "defining condition" of explanation.