Difference-Making and Explanatory Relevance
An international conference
The central question for any theory of explanation can be put in terms of relevance. What makes bits of information relevant to explaining why something is the case? Classical accounts of explanation (in terms of nomic expectability, causation, or certain statistical patterns) have frequently been criticized for not properly answering this question. In recent approaches to the question, philosophers have turned to the idea of making a difference. Causes, for instance, that make a difference to the occurrence of an event are relevant to explaining why that event occurred. This idea is present both in counterfactual accounts of explanation that have been advanced by Woodward and others as well as alternative approaches such as the one by Strevens. But the notion of difference-making has also been studied independently of the philosophy of explanation, for instance in the questions centring around free will and responsibility.
The aim of the present conference is to bring together philosophers from different disciplines to present their newest research on the topics of difference-making and explanatory relevance.
The conference will take place
- on 12-16 July 2021 (two talks per day),
- online via Zoom.
- Laura Franklin-Hall (NYU)
- Carolina Sartorio (Arizona)
- Jonathan Schaffer (Rutgers)
- Michael Strevens (NYU)
- James Woodward (Pittsburgh)
Call for Contributed Papers
Five slots (up to 90 minutes, divided into 45-60min for the talk and the remainder for discussion) are available for contributed papers on the topic of the conference. If you would like to present a paper, please submit a CV and an extended abstract of up to 2,000 words, suitable for anonymous review, to hamburgrelevance (at) gmail (dot) com by the deadline of 17 May. Notifications of acceptance will be sent out by the end of May.
We are planning to publish selected papers in a special issue of an international peer reviewed journal.
Attendance is free but please register in advance by writing to hamburgrelevance (at) gmail (dot) com.
We gratefully acknowledge the financial support provided by the DFG through Stephan Kraemer’s Emmy Noether grant (KR 4516/2-1).