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Whether scientific explanation is causal, unificatory, nomological, statistical,

deductive, inductive, or any combination of them, a question may still remain about
how and whether scientific explanations really answer our explanatory questions,
really convey the sort of understanding that really satisfies inquiry. One very long-
standing perspective suggests that scientific explanation is limited, and in the end
unsatisfying, because it does not go deep enough to the bottom of things.
Sometimes this perspective expresses itself in the thesis that scientific explanations
only reveal how things come about, but not why they happen. Thus, for example, it
will be held that all a D-N model tells us about an explanandum-event is that it
happened because such an event always happens under certain conditions and
these conditions obtained. When we want to know why something has happened,
we already know that it has, and we may even know that events like it always
happen under the conditions in which it happened. We want some deeper insight
than how it came to happen.

When this sort of dissatisfaction with scientific explanation is expressed, what sort
of explanation is sought? These deeper explanatory demands seek an account of
things which show them and nature in general to be intelligible, to make sense, to
add up to something, instead of just revealing a pattern of one damned thing after
another. Traditionally, there seem to be two sorts of explanations that aim at
satisfying this need for deeper understanding than pushpull, efficient-cause
explanations that physics and chemistry can provide.

Sometimes, the demand is for an explanation which will show that what happened
had to happen in a very strong sense, that its occurrence was necessary, not just
physically necessary, in light of what just the laws of nature just happen to be, but
necessary as a matter of rational intelligibility or logic. Such an explanation would
reveal why things couldnt have turned out any other way, because, for example,
the laws of nature are not contingently true about the world, but necessarily true
that there is only one possible way the world can be. On this view, gravity cannot,
as a matter of logical necessity, vary as the cube of the distance between objects as
oppose to the square, copper must as a matter of logic alone be a solid at room
temperature, the speed of light couldnt be 100 miles an hour greater than it is, etc.
This is a conception of science that goes back to the eighteenth-century rationalist
philosophers Leibniz and Kant, who set themselves the task of showing that the
most fundamental scientific theories of their day were not just true, but necessarily
true, and thus provided the most complete form of understanding possible.