Scientific Explanation between Principle and Constructive Theories

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Felline, Laura
preprint description
The aim of this paper is to analyse the role that the distinction between principle and constructive theories have in the question of the explanatory power of Special Relativity. We show how the distinction breaks down at the explanatory level. We assess Harvey Brown’s (2005) claim that, as a principle theory, Special Relativity lacks of explanatory power and criticize it, as, we argue, based upon an unrealistic picture of the kind of explanations provided by principle (and constructive) theories. Finally, we claim that the structural account of explanation (Hughes 1989b) captures the explanatory success of Special Relativity.