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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Explanation in Human Thinking


Jörg Cassens, Rebekah Wegener, Lorenz Habenicht, and Julian Blohm discuss the dialogic form of explanations. Explanations are a long established research topic in a wide variety of disciplines, ranging from philosophy (van Fraassen, 1980; Achinstein, 1983) over the cognitive sciences and psychology (Lalljee et al., 1983; Keil and Wilson, 2000; Lombrozo, 2006) to computer science in general and artificial intelligence in particular (Schank, 1986; Leake, 1992; Leake (1995); Sørmo et al., 2005). However, while there is compelling research supporting the value, structure and function of explanation, as Edwards et al. (2019) argue, “accounts of explanation typically define explanation (the product) rather than explaining (the process)”. By contrast, we aim at an understanding of explanation as a functional variety of language behaviour that treats explanations as being:

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