more from Hilary Putnam

Single Idea 17084

[catalogued under 14. Science / D. Explanation / 4. Explanation Doubts / a. Explanation as pragmatic]

Full Idea

Explanation is an interest-relative notion …explanation has to be partly a pragmatic concept. To regard the 'pragmatics' of explanation as no part of the concept is to abdicate the job of figuring out what makes an explanation good.

Gist of Idea

You can't decide which explanations are good if you don't attend to the interest-relative aspects


Hilary Putnam (Meaning and the Moral Sciences [1978], p. 41-2), quoted by David-Hillel Ruben - Explaining Explanation Ch 1

Book Reference

Ruben,David-Hillel: 'Explaining Explanation' [Routledge 1990], p.21

A Reaction

I suppose this is just obvious, depending on how far you want to take the 'interest-relative' bit. If a fool is fobbed off with a trivial explanation, there must be some non-relative criterion for assessing that.