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ERIC Number: EJ1096548
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2016-May
Pages: 25
Abstractor: As Provided
ISSN: ISSN-0926-7220
Why the Difference between Explanation and Argument Matters to Science Education
Brigandt, Ingo
Science & Education, v25 n3-4 p251-275 May 2016
Contributing to the recent debate on whether or not explanations ought to be differentiated from arguments, this article argues that the distinction matters to science education. I articulate the distinction in terms of explanations and arguments having to meet different standards of adequacy. Standards of explanatory adequacy are important because they correspond to what counts as a good explanation in a science classroom, whereas a focus on evidence-based argumentation can obscure such standards of what makes an explanation explanatory. I provide further reasons for the relevance of not conflating explanations with arguments (and having standards of explanatory adequacy in view). First, what guides the adoption of the particular standards of explanatory adequacy that are relevant in a scientific case is the explanatory aim pursued in this context. Apart from explanatory aims being an important aspect of the nature of science, including explanatory aims in classroom instruction also promotes students seeing explanations as more than facts, and engages them in developing explanations as responses to interesting explanatory problems. Second, it is of relevance to science curricula that science aims at intervening in natural processes, not only for technological applications, but also as part of experimental discovery. Not any argument enables intervention in nature, as successful intervention specifically presupposes causal explanations. Students can fruitfully explore in the classroom how an explanatory account suggests different options for intervention.
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Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Descriptive
Education Level: N/A
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Grant or Contract Numbers: N/A