Saturday, May 05, 2007

Backwards Explanation and The 'Real' Explanation

Update: The current draft of Backwards Explanation is now online. Comments welcome.

Some good news from my inbox this morning: Daniel and my joint paper, 'Backwards Explanation and The 'Real' Explanation' has been accepted for this year's Bellingham Summer Philosophy Conference.

'Backwards' event explanation is explanation of an earlier event by a later event. The paper argues that prima facie cases of backwards event explanation are ubiquitous. Some examples:

(1) I am tidying my flat because my brother is coming to visit tomorrow.
(2) The scarlet pimpernels are closing because it is about to rain.
(3) The volcano is smoking because it is going to erupt soon.

We then look at various ways people might attempt to explain away these prima facie cases by arguing that in each case the 'real' explanation is something else. We argue that none is successful, and so any plausible account of explanation should either make room for backwards explanation or have a good story to tell about why it doesn't have to.


N. N. said...

Sounds interesting. Is the paper on the blog somewhere?

What distinguishes backwards explanations from teleological explanations?

Carrie Jenkins said...

Hi N.N.,

It is now!