Skip to content
Register Sign in Wishlist

Explanatory Pluralism

  • Date Published: May 2016
  • availability: Available
  • format: Hardback
  • isbn: 9781107128514


Add to wishlist

Other available formats:

Looking for an inspection copy?

Please email to enquire about an inspection copy of this book

Product filter button
About the Authors
  • Explaining phenomena is one of the main activities in which scientists engage. This book proposes a new philosophical theory of scientific explanation by developing and defending the position of explanatory pluralism with the help of the notion of 'explanatory games'. Mantzavinos provides a descriptive account of the explanatory activity of scientists in different domains and shows how they differ from commonsensical explanations offered in everyday life by ordinary people and also from explanations offered in religious contexts. He also shows how an evaluation and a critical appraisal of explanations put forward in different social arenas can take place on the basis of different values. Explanatory Pluralism provides solutions to all important descriptive and normative problems of the philosophical theory of explanation as illustrated in sophisticated case studies from economics and medicine, but also from mythology and religion.

    • Proposes a new philosophical theory of scientific explanation
    • Includes case studies from economics and medicine, and also from mythology and religion
    • Articulates, for the first time, the position of explanatory pluralism in a systematic fashion
    Read more

    Reviews & endorsements

    'C. Mantzavinos raises fundamental questions about what a philosophical theory of explanation should do, and he offers a highly original and illuminating approach to the tasks he singles out as important. This book is required reading for anyone interested in the philosophy of science.' Philip Kitcher, John Dewey Professor of Philosophy, Columbia University, New York

    'What distinguishes the different scientific disciplines and the evolving developments within any discipline? Mantzavinos says that each discipline plays its own explanatory set of games, each answering to a set of guiding values; and that a game may change in any domain as it proves better answerable to local values or as those values themselves shift. This engaging theory of explanation is philosophically innovative and empirically informed, with discussion ranging widely over the natural, psychological and social sciences.' Philip Pettit, L. S. Rockefeller Professor of Politics and Human Values, Princeton University, New Jersey and Distinguished Professor of Philosophy, Australian National University, Canberra

    'This is a very lively and engaging defense of pluralism about explanation. Mantzavinos argues forcefully that no single model of explanation, of the sort traditionally sought by philosophers of science, adequately captures all the different varieties of explanatory activities that go on in science and in other areas of human life. He proposes instead that we understand explanation in terms of a strikingly new notion - that of an explanatory game. Philosophers and non-philosophers alike will find much of interest in this original and stimulating book.' James F. Woodward, Distinguished Professor of History and Philosophy of Science, University of Pittsburgh

    '… an important antidote to the ontic conception of explanation that has recently plagued philosophy of science. … [It] refocuses the debate so as to highlight the cognitive and social elements of explanatory activity; it is an important and welcome addition to the literature.' Alexander Beard and Cory Wright, Analysis

    See more reviews

    Customer reviews

    Not yet reviewed

    Be the first to review

    Review was not posted due to profanity


    , create a review

    (If you're not , sign out)

    Please enter the right captcha value
    Please enter a star rating.
    Your review must be a minimum of 12 words.

    How do you rate this item?


    Product details

    • Date Published: May 2016
    • format: Hardback
    • isbn: 9781107128514
    • length: 234 pages
    • dimensions: 234 x 156 x 12 mm
    • weight: 0.48kg
    • contains: 12 b/w illus.
    • availability: Available
  • Table of Contents

    1. Introduction
    2. The wrong question: what is an explanation?
    3. A brief outlook on the social sciences
    4. Towards explanatory pluralism
    5. The explanatory enterprise
    6. The rules of the explanatory game
    7. The plurality of explanatory games
    8. Explanatory activity as problem solving activity
    9. Explanatory rules as shared rules
    10. Normative appraisal: a procedural conception
    11. Explanatory methodology as technology
    12. Epilogue.

  • Author

    C. Mantzavinos, University of Athens, Greece
    C. Mantzavinos is Professor of Philosophy of the Social Sciences at the University of Athens. He has previously taught at Witten/Herdecke University, the University of Freiburg, the University of Bayreuth and Stanford University, and was a Senior Research Fellow at the Max Planck Institute for Research on Collective Goods, Bonn. He has held visiting appointments at Harvard University and the Maison des Sciences de l'Homme, Paris. He is the author of Wettbewerbstheorie (1994), Individuals, Institutions, and Markets (Cambridge, 2001) and Naturalistic Hermeneutics (Cambridge, 2005), and the editor of Philosophy of the Social Sciences (Cambridge, 2009).

Sign In

Please sign in to access your account


Not already registered? Create an account now. ×

Sorry, this resource is locked

Please register or sign in to request access. If you are having problems accessing these resources please email

Register Sign in
Please note that this file is password protected. You will be asked to input your password on the next screen.

» Proceed

You are now leaving the Cambridge University Press website. Your eBook purchase and download will be completed by our partner Please see the permission section of the catalogue page for details of the print & copy limits on our eBooks.

Continue ×

Continue ×

Continue ×

Find content that relates to you

Join us online

This site uses cookies to improve your experience. Read more Close

Are you sure you want to delete your account?

This cannot be undone.


Thank you for your feedback which will help us improve our service.

If you requested a response, we will make sure to get back to you shortly.

Please fill in the required fields in your feedback submission.