Explanations of Human Behavior and Experiences

Sometimes the way to explain a human phenomenon is to talk about where it came from. So, for example, we explain why people like to eat sugar, even when it’s unhealthy to them, by appealing to a Darwinian story about the cell’s need for sugar,and the evolution of a brain to find sugar in a sugar-poor environment.

But sometimes we appeal to what the goal of the behavior is. So…

Supposing we want to explain the fact that when you ask someone what “2+2” equals he says “4”.

Isn’t some of the explanation not just:

a)Humans evolved (biologically and culturally) so as to be able to say “4” when asked what “2+2” is

but also


What determines which kind of explanation we appeal to?

Are both explanations using “explanation” in the same sense?

Maybe the first case, the Darwinian case, explains the behavior by connecting it to a predictive law, while the second explains the behavior by connecting it to a truth? Is the general concept of explanation then “connecting to a wider context”?

Maybe there is not a single wider context, but there are many, and thus many different forms of explanation?


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