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Ideas of Michael Stanford, by Text

[British, b.1923, Lecturer at the University of the West of England, Bristol.]

1991 Explanation: the state of play
p.172 p.172 Explanation is for curiosity, control, understanding, to make meaningful, or to give authority
     Full Idea: There are a number of reasons why we explain: out of sheer curiosity, to increase our control of a situation, to help understanding by simplifying or making familiar, to confer meaning or significance, and to give scientific authority to some statement.
     From: Michael Stanford (Explanation: the state of play [1991], p.172)
p.172 p.172 Audience-relative explanation, or metaphysical explanation based on information?
     Full Idea: Rather than an 'interest-relative' notion of explanation (Putnam), it can be informational content which makes an explanation, which is an 'audience-invariant' contraint, which is not pragmatic, but mainly epistemological and also partly metaphysical.
     From: Michael Stanford (Explanation: the state of play [1991], p.172)
     A reaction: [compressed summary of Ruben 1990] Examples given are that Rome burning explains Nero fiddling, even if no one ever says so, and learning that George III had porphyria explains his madness.
p.174 p.174 We can explain by showing constitution, as well as showing causes
     Full Idea: The powerful engine of my car can be explained by an examination of each of its parts, but it is not caused by them. They do not cause the engine; they constitute it.
     From: Michael Stanford (Explanation: the state of play [1991], p.174)
     A reaction: [example from Ruben 1990:221] This could be challenged, since there is clearly a causal connection between the constitution and the whole. We distinguish engine parts which contribute to the power from those which do not.