Explanation in philosophy and the limits of precision

Rebecca Bendick, Albert Borgmann

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


A look at the beginning of philosophy and a consideration of contemporary Anglo-American philosophy show that precision of presentation is a commendable and widely pursued goal. There is a trade-off, however, between precision and richness of presentation. As precision gets sharpened, impoverishment of subject matter advances, often without recognition of the price that is paid for precision. A precise way of illustrating the trade-off in question is to take a precise meteorological model, consider how little it tells us about the weather, enrich the model, and see how precision loses its edge. The works of Heidegger and Rawls are mentioned as exemplars of balance between precision and richness.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)167-174
Number of pages8
JournalAI and Society
Issue number2
StatePublished - May 1 2017


  • Deduction
  • Explanation
  • Impoverishment
  • Models
  • Precision


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