Jonathan Shaheen: "Explanations as Narratives”

  • Date: –12:00
  • Location: Engelska parken - Eng2-1022
  • Organiser: Department of Philosophy
  • Contact person: Matti Eklund
  • Seminarium

The Higher Seminar in Theoretical Philosophy

Jonathan Shaheen, Uppsala University: "Explanations as Narratives”

Though Hempel's 1942 paper "The Function of General Laws in History" inaugurated the philosophical literature on explanation, the literature on scientific explanation soon left historical explanations aside. In this paper I try to reconnect scientific and historical explanation by investigating the benefits of re-conceiving of explanations as a specialized kind of narrative. Taking this perspective has a number of noteworthy benefits. First, considering theories of explanation and historical narrative alongside one another provides an independent check on the plausibility of claims about each (though here most of the benefit comes from subjecting narrativist philosophy of history to contemporary analytic perusal). Second, it sheds new light on synchronicity as a source of skepticism about metaphysical explanations, insofar as their synchronicity prevents metaphysical explanations from fitting a popular conception of narratives as having a beginning, middle, and end. Third, it reveals part of the essence of explanations, viz., that they are narratives.