Causal Explanation

The most popular current account of explanation. To explain an event is to give some information about its causal history.


The main presentation is Lewis 1986b 'Causal Explanation'.


Pragmatics and Relevance

The causal history of an event is very large, so we must choose part of it as explanatorily relevant. This is covered in Lewis 1986b and Lipton 1993.

Probabilistic Explanation

If causes are probabilistic, there are additional problems involved in specifying the explanatory relation. This is covered in Humphreys 1989.

Functional Explanation

Causal accounts of functional explanation claim that the functional explanation is really shorthand for a causal account. See Wright 1976.


The main criticisms of the account centre on the claim that there are non-causal explanations. See Ruben 1990, Chapter VII.