On (Some) Explanations in Physics

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Weatherall, James Owen
preprint description
I offer one possible explanation of why inertial and gravitational mass are equal in Newtonian gravitation. I then argue that this is an example of a kind of explanation that is not captured by standard philosophical accounts of scientific explanation. Moreover, this form of explanation is particularly important, at least in physics, because demands for this kind of explanation are used to motivate and shape research into the next generation of physical theories. I suggest that explanations of the sort I describe reveal something important about one way in which physical theories can be related diachronically.