The Role of Unification in Micro-Explanations of Physical Laws



Published 10-01-2014
Erik Weber Merel Lefevere


In the literature on scientific explanation, there is a classical distinction between explanations of facts and explanations of laws. This paper is about explanations of laws, more specifically mechanistic explanations of laws. We investigate whether providing unificatory information in mechanistic explanations of laws has a surplus value. Unificatory information is information about how the mechanism that explains the law which is our target relates to other mechanisms (which explain other laws). We argue that providing unificatory information can lead to explanations with more explanatory power (we use Jim Woodward's concept of explanatory power for that) and that it may lead to more strongly supported explanations.


How to Cite

Weber, E., & Lefevere, M. (2014). The Role of Unification in Micro-Explanations of Physical Laws. THEORIA. An International Journal for Theory, History and Foundations of Science, 29(1), 41–56.
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causal mechanisms, explanation of laws, explanatory virtues, unification