Knowledge as Explanations

42 Pages Posted: 16 Feb 2017

See all articles by Marco Valente

Marco Valente

University of L'Aquila; University of Sussex - Science and Technology Policy Research Unit (SPRU); Ruhr Universit├Ąt Bochum

Date Written: February 16, 2017


The paper discusses the implications of considering any piece of knowledge as composed by a chain of explanations, and, consequently, of assuming as goal of scientific research the production of new knowledge in the form of novel, or better, explanations.

This perspective provides a consistent framework to interpret the activities related to knowledge creation and leads to fruitful implications. We can classify rigorously different types of research questions and the components of individual explanations, suggesting rigorous protocols to carry on research projects. The issue of assessing scientific claims can be framed formally facilitating the solution of scientific disputes. Finally, it allows to overcome the distinction between "hard" and "soft" sciences specifying the features of accessible potential knowledge depending on the nature of the phenomena analyzed.

Though our proposal is not specific to a particular discipline, we focus on the implications for scholar of Economics. We discuss a few examples of methodological approaches frequently adopted by economists under the light of considering as goal of scientific research the production of convincing explanations rather than accurate descriptions.

Keywords: Methodology, Philosophy of science, Validation, Empirical assessment

JEL Classification: B41, C52, C63, C80

Suggested Citation

Valente, Marco, Knowledge as Explanations (February 16, 2017). Available at SSRN: or

Marco Valente (Contact Author)

University of L'Aquila ( email )

Piazza del Santuario, 19
Roio Poggio - L'Aquila, 67040

University of Sussex - Science and Technology Policy Research Unit (SPRU) ( email )

Mantell Building
Brighton BN1 9RH UK, Sussex
United Kingdom

Ruhr Universit├Ąt Bochum ( email )

Faculty of Management and Economics
Chair of International Economics
Bochum, 44780

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