Realism and Explanatory Priority
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Edward N. Zalta ed. The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy Winter ed. In the Physics , Aristotle builds on his general account of the four causes by developing explanatory principles that are specific to the study of nature.
Here Aristotle insists that all four modes of explanation are called for in the study of natural phenomena, and that the job of "the student of nature is to bring the why-question back to them all in the way appropriate to the science of nature" Phys. The best way to understand this methodological recommendation is the following: the science of nature is concerned with natural bodies insofar as they are subject to change, and the job of the student of nature is to provide the explanation of their natural change. The factors that are involved in the explanation of natural change turn out to be matter, form, that which produces the change, and the end of this change.
Note that Aristotle does not say that all four explanatory factors are involved in the explanation of each and every instance of natural change. Rather, he says that an adequate explanation of natural change may involve a reference to all of them. Aristotle goes on by adding a specification on his doctrine of the four causes: the form and the end often coincide, and they are formally the same as that which produces the change Phys.
Aristotle in 23 Volumes, Vols. May April The Thomist. Archived from the original on 1 May Retrieved 6 April Open Theology. Azamat Abdoullaev Analytical Philosophy of History. Edward Craig , in: Ratio , N. I , nr. Green, Celia Oxford: Oxford Forum. Hewitson, Mark History and Causality.
Palgrave Macmillan. Little, Daniel New York: Transaction. Lloyd, Christopher The Structures of History. Oxford: Blackwell. Idem Explanation in Social History. Maurice Mandelbaum The Anatomy of Historical Knowledge. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins Press. Judea Pearl The Logic of Survey Analysis. New York: Basic Books, Inc. Links to related articles.
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