Abstract

Recently, a putative truism about explanation has come under criticism. The putative truism is this: only true statements about existing entities can explain. If the putative truism fails, then it looks like arguments for scientific realism based on arguments from explanatory indispensability must fail too. In this talk, I focus on what I take to be the strongest challenge to the putative truism; namely, the explanatory use of fictions. Bokulich has raised a series of examples of semiclassical explanations of quantum phenomena where the distortions involved appear to go beyond approximations or idealisations and, yet, the explanations involved seem none the worse (and maybe even better) for the inclusions of fictional entities.  I will argue that we can accept the existence of genuinely explanatory fictions without completely abandoning arguments from explanatory indispensability.