[SydPhil] Invitation: USyd Postgrad Work in Progress Talk: Adrian Currie @ Tue 23 Apr 2013 15:00 - 16:30 (sydphil at arts.usyd.edu.au)

Simon Varey simonvarey at gmail.com
Wed Apr 17 22:52:43 AEST 2013

You have been invited to the following event.

Title: USyd Postgrad Work in Progress Talk: Adrian Currie
USyd Postgrad Work in Progress Talk: Adrian Currie

Snowballs & Sauropods: Explanation and Progress in Historical Science

Historical explanation is taken to be primarily narrative: accounting for a  
particular state of affairs in virtue of a unique causal sequence resulting  
in that state of affairs. I examine two historical explanations: geological  
accounts of snowball earth and paleobiological accounts of sauropod  
gigantism. Although both are narrative explanations, they take a strikingly  
different form. While snowball earth is explained as a token of a  
process-type and contains minimal detail, explanations of sauropod  
gigantism are highly detailed and explained as a unique event. I use this  
to draw a distinction between 'simple' and 'complex' narratives. I then  
argue for explanatory realism qua that distinction: at least sometimes,  
picking between strategies is not a pragmatic choice, but turns on the  
nature of the world. The distinction also reveals a surprising pattern of  
progress in historical explanation. Explanation shifts from simple and  
unified to complex and disunified. Time permitting, the distinction will  
also be used to undermine Cleland's picture of historical methodology and  
Glennan's argument that narrative explanations describe 'ephemeral  
When: Tue 23 Apr 2013 15:00 – 16:30 Eastern Time - Melbourne, Sydney
Where: Philosophy Common Room, Main Quad, University of Sydney
Calendar: sydphil at arts.usyd.edu.au
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