Why High-Level Explanations Exist

To appear in Levels of Explanation, OUP, edited by Katie Robertson and Alastair Wilson

High-level explanation would be impossible without a certain kind of independence of high-level behavior from low-level behavior, which I call semi-detachment from the lower level. After characterizing semi-detachment, this chapter poses the question why semi-detachment should be so widespread. It explores an answer that turns on low-level details’ propensity to cancel or balance out, thereby providing a part of an account as to why high-level explanations in the sciences should be, not merely possible, but plentiful.

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