chapter  2
14 Pages

On Explanations in General

My initial discussion of religious explanations suffered from the ambiguity of the phrase “religious explanation.” In fact, ambiguities surround both the term “religious” and the term “explanation.” I have already discussed one possible ambiguity (1.2.2). Is the focus of my enquiry those explanations that we customarily describe as “scientifi c”? Or is it explanations in general? My answer is that I am interested in explanations in general. Whether we choose to call some of these explanations “scientifi c” is a relatively unimportant matter. What I shall argue is that there are certain features that all adequate explanations will share, and it is those features that I wish to refl ect on here. To spell out what those features are will involve a certain amount of philosophical spade-work, preparing the ground for what is to come. But spade-work is important, and at the end of the day there is no substitute for rolling up one’s sleeves and getting on with it.