Breaking the explanatory circle

Michael Townsen Hicks

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3 Citations (Scopus)
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Humeans are often accused of positing laws which fail to explain or are involved in explanatory circularity. Here, I will argue that these arguments are confused, but not because of anything to do with Humeanism: rather, they rest on false assumptions about causal explanation. I’ll show how these arguments can be neatly sidestepped if one takes on two plausible commitments which are motivated independently of Humeanism: first, that laws don’t directly feature in scientific explanation--a view defended recently by Ruben (in R Inst Philos Suppl 27:95–117, 1990, and Skow (in Reasons Why, Oxford University Press, Oxford, 2016) and second, the view that explanation is contrastive. After outlining and motivating these views, I show how they bear on explanation-based arguments against Humeanism.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-26
Number of pages26
JournalPhilosophical Studies
Issue number2
Early online date30 Mar 2020
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 30 Mar 2020


  • Causation
  • Circularity objection
  • Explanation
  • Grounding
  • Humeanism
  • Laws of nature
  • Metaphysical explanation
  • Metaphysics
  • Metaphysics of science


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