# Short Answer Questions (submit online)

1. Explain one objection to the DN model of explanation.
2. How would the Statistical Relevance model explain why Joe, who was born male and is taking birth control pills, has not become pregnant?
3. What is the Causal Mechanistic model of explanation?

# For Further Discussion

• Some questions that demand explanation. You may have heard some of them before. Try to give an explanation of each. Then, try to identify what kind of explanation has been given, referring to on of our four accounts (DN, Statistical Relevance, Causal Mechanistic, Unificationist).
• Why is the sky blue?
• Why is the sea salty?
• Why is winter cold?
• How do birds fly?
• The DN Model. This is the starting point for the explanation literature. To explain a phenomenon, you must first formulate an argument with that phenomenon as the conclusion.
• The DN model further asks for one of the premises of the argument to be a law of nature (or at least a "law-like" statement). Why is this needed?
• The shadow cast by a flagpole is supposed to cause a problem for the DN model of explanation. What exactly is the problem?
• The explanation of why a male taking birth control pills is also supposed to be a problem for the DN model. Why?
• Are either of these problems repairable? Do you think they are serious problems that are relevant to science, or can they be avoided?
• The statistical relevance model is an attempt to introduce "relevance" of a precise kind into scientific explanation.
• Suppose there is a sports team that has an enormous sum of money (M), and also hires the best players that it can afford (B). Use the statistical relevance model to explain why that sports team might tend to win (W).
• Why is the correlation between burning houses and the presence of firemen a problem for this account?
• How would you recommend adjusting this account to fix the problem? Or, is it unsalvageable?
• The Causal Mechanistic and Unificationist accounts are both attempts to avoid the problems with DN and with the statistical relevance account.
• How does the causal relevance model explain why a billiard ball went into a pocket?
• In lecture it was suggested that the causal mechanistic model is not a plausible account for large-scale systems like economic systems. Is that correct? Might there be a way to apply the model to the social sciences?
• How does the unificationist model account for the flag pole problem? Is this a reasonable response in your view?
• The anthropic principle says that the universe must be consistent with the hypothesis that human life occurs.
• Is this true?
• Anthropic explanations usually take this principle as the "law" in a DN explanation. For example, you can use the anthropic principle to explain the occurence of carbon molecules in the universe. How?
• Is this a plausible explanation, or is it like the flagpole? Is there any way to use the anthropic principle in explanations that are not just DN model explanations?