Explanatory Unification and Scientific Understanding

Jennifer Wilson Mulnix

Abstract: This paper represents a response to the criticisms made by Eric Barnes in “Explanatory Unification and the Problem of Asymmetry” and “Explanatory Unification and Scientific Understanding” against the thesis of Explanatory Unification. This paper responds to Barnes’ two main criticisms, that of derivational skepticism and casual asymmetry, and successfully refutes his objections. This paper also defends the plausibility of the unificationist account of scientific explanation because of its ability to render coherent the notion of scientific understanding, focusing in particular on the work by Michael Friedman and Philip Kitcher.

Keywords: unification, scientific explanation, derivational skepticism, causal asymmetry, philosophy of science, Kitcher, Friedman, Barnes.