Skip to main content
No AccessArticles

Should Explanations Omit the Details?

There is a widely shared belief that the higher-level sciences can provide better explanations than lower-level sciences. But there is little agreement about exactly why this is so. It is often suggested that higher-level explanations are better because they omit details. I will argue instead that the preference for higher-level explanations is just a special case of our general preference for informative, logically strong, beliefs. I argue that our preference for informative beliefs entirely accounts for why higher-level explanations are sometimes better—and sometimes worse—than lower-level explanations. The result is a step in the direction of the unity of science hypothesis.

1.  Introduction

2.  Background: Is Omitting Details an Explanatory Virtue?

2.1.  Anti-reductionist arguments

2.2.  Reductionist argument

2.3.  Logical strength

3.  Bases, Links and Logical Strength

4.  Functionalism and Fodor’s Argument

5.  Two Generalizations

6.  Should the Base Really Be Maximally Strong?

7.  Anti-reductionist Arguments Regarding the Base

8.  Should the Antecedent of the Link Really Be Maximally Weak?