High-Level Exceptions Explained

Erkenntnis 79, 1819–1832, 2014

Abstract: Why are causal generalizations in the higher-level sciences non-strict? That is, why do they have apparent exceptions? This paper offers one explanation: many causal generalizations cite as their antecedent—the F in Fs are G—a property that is not causally relevant to the consequent, but which is rather explanatorily associated with a causally relevant property. Explanatory association is a relation that may exist for many reasons, and that allows of exceptions. Causal generalizations that specify explanatorily associated but causally irrelevant antecedents therefore tolerate exceptions.

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