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Explanations: Styles of Explanation in Science

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Overview


Our lives, states of health, relationships, behavior, experiences of the natural world, and the technologies that shape our contemporary existence are subject to a superfluity of competing, multi-faceted and sometimes incompatible explanations. Widespread confusion about the nature of "explanation" and its scope and limits pervades popular exposition of the natural sciences, popular history and philosophy of science. This fascinating book explores the way explanations work, why they vary between disciplines, periods, and cultures, and whether they have any necessary boundaries. In other words, Explanations aims to achieve a better understanding of explanation, both within the sciences and the humanities. It features contributions from expert writers from a wide range of disciplines, including science, philosophy, mathematics, and social anthropology.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780198607786
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press, USA
  • Publication date: 6/15/2004
  • Pages: 272
  • Product dimensions: 9.30 (w) x 6.40 (h) x 1.10 (d)

Meet the Author

John Cornwell is an author and journalist, and Director of the Science and Human Dimension Project at Jesus College, Cambridge. He is the editor of two previous collections, also published by OUP: Nature's Imagination (1994) and Consciousness and Human Identity (1998).

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Table of Contents

List of contributors
Introduction
1 What good is an explanation? 1
2 Can science explain everything? : can science explain anything? 23
3 Explaining the universe 39
4 Does physics rule the roost of scientific explanation? 67
5 Mathematical explanation 81
6 Ponderable matter : explanation in chemistry 111
7 The biology of the future and the future of biology 125
8 Teleology : the explanation that bedevils biology 143
9 What is it not like to be a brain? 157
10 Ontology and scientific explanation 173
11 From explanation to interpretation in social anthropology 197
12 Passing it on : redescribing scientific explanation 213
Index 229
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