Unification and Explanation: Explanation as a Prototype Concept. A Reply to Weber and van Dyck, Gijsberg, and de Regt

Gerhard Schurz


In this paper I investigate unification as a virtue of explanation. I the first part of the paper (sec. 1-2) I give a brief exposition of the unification account of Schurz and Lambert (1994) and Schurz (1999). I illustrate the advantages of this account in comparison to the older unification accounts of Friedman (1974) and Kitcher (1981). In the second part (sec. 3) I discuss several comments and objections to the Schurz-Lambert account that were raised by Weber and van Dyck (2002), Gijsberg (2007) and de Regt (2005).  In the third and final part (sec. 4), I argue that explanation should be understood as a prototype concept which contains nomic expectability, causality and unification as prototypical virtues of explanations, although none of these virtues provides a sufficient and necessary "defining condition" of explanation.


Unification, Explanation, Prototype concept

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DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1387/theoria.8729