An empirical method for the study of exemplar explanations

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Goddiksen, Mads
preprint description
The most common way of studying explanations in philosophy of science and science education is through case studies. Recently these have been supplemented with studies based on empirical methods. This chapter provides an empirical method for collecting and comparing exemplar explanations across scientific disciplines with the aim of exposing possible qualitative differences between them. The method is based on the use of science textbooks as sources of explanations. I discuss a number of possible strategies for identifying explanations in these sources, and specify a set of reliable linguistic indicators that can be used for this purpose. A pilot study is presented to illustrate the method and its limitations.