Title

When Do Scientific Explanations Compete? Steps Toward A Heuristic Checklist

Document Type

Article

Abstract

It's not uncommon for scientists to give different explanations of the same phenomenon, but we currently lack clear guidelines for deciding whether to treat such accounts as competitors. This article discusses how science studies can help create tools and guidelines for thinking about whether explanations compete. It also specifies how one family of discourse rules enables there to be differing accounts that appear to compete but don't. One hopes that being more aware of the linguistic mechanisms making compatible accounts appear to compete will prevent people from wasting resources trying to show which account is right.

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