Originally Posted by botully
I'm sorry, jimmo, this doesn't make sense to me either, and it seems to contradict the original goal. Maybe it's a language thing. Could you explain the goal again?
If I want to know why I have a flat tire, "Because you ran over a nail" explains it. There may be other factors we can cite, I drove across a construction site, the tires were old with a thin tread....but "ran over a nail" is adequate.
If someone asks "Why was the Normandy invasion successful?" and I reply "overwhelming firepower", I haven't explained anything. The Normandy campaign is a complex subject, airpower, logistics, technology, politics, naval power...too complex to try to summarize so simply.
But perhaps I misunderstand your goal.
This is really an issue of the philosophy of history and not the Normandy invasion. The goal is to demonstrate that when a single cause does explain an entire event, it does not mean that single components cannot be explained by single causes.
Most certainly, "The Normandy campaign is a complex subject". I am not tryng to "summarize" it. In fact, my position is that you usually cannot
explain complex events like this with just a single cause. However, is it possible
to explain events like this with a single cause. In this case, "overwhelming firepower" could be that single cause. explanatory scope:
Does the given explanation address all of the components?
If someone believes that there was only one cause for an event, they could potentially use explanatory scope to claim that the explanation for one component does not explain the whole event. That is, it does not have the necessary explanatory scope. In my mind, this is invalid.
Assume for a moment, we do not know all of the details of the Normandy invasion and we are looking for an explanation of why it was successful. In this case, "overwhelming firepower" would be able to address every aspect, and thus has explanatory scope. explanatory power:
Can the explanation explain everything sufficiently.
In the case, of the normandy invasion, "overwhelming firepower" does have the ability (power) to explain each success like Omaha beach, the taking of the harbor at Cherbourg, etc.
So we have an event, that could
be explained by a single
cause. Admittedly, in this case we know the single cause "overwhelming firepower" is not
really what happened. However, let's assume we don't have the details.
We know that the harbor at Cherbourg was a key element in the success. If someone where to say, for example, that taking the harbor was not due to overwhelming firepower, but due to superior tactical decisions by the allies, another person could
counter saying, the "tactical decisions" have insuffient "explanatory scope" because that does not address the success at Omaha beach, even though it has the necessary explanatory power to explain the taking of the Cherbourg harbor. It seems, superficially, that "tactical decisions" is an insufficient explanation. I maintain this is invalid.
Obviously, there are other components, such as which explanation is more plausible. However, assuming we do not have details, it would be difficult to know which is more plausible. If this was a Roman battle, where we had contradictory stories, or embellished claims by Roman historians, it would be much more difficult to say which explanation is more plausible.
In essence, the goal is to demonstrate that while explanatory scope is an important consideration, there are many cases where we know an historical event is not explained by a single cause. Thus limited explanatory scope of that cause does not eliminate it as an explanation. So for events where we do not have all of the details, it is invalid to insist that the cause of sub-events can be ingored because they do not explain the complete event
Admittedly I did not mention "evidence" in my original post, and is more or less irrelevant to the discussion.