Causal relations and explanatory strategies in physics

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Wayne, Andrew
conference paper description
Many philosophers now regard causal approaches to explanation as highly promising, even in physics. This is due in large part to James Woodward’s influential argument that a wide range of explanations (including explanations in physics) are causal, based on his interventionist approach to causation. This article focuses on explanations, widespread in physics, involving highly idealized models. These explanations are not causal, yet they do not fall under any of the types of non-causal explanation Woodward describes. I argue that causal explanation is simply not as widespread or important in physics as Woodward and others maintain.