Accounts of explanation given in the information systems literature, most prevalent in the areas knowledge-based systems and human-computer interaction, generally do not consider the philosophical underpinnings of explanation concepts. The theoretically rich accounts that have emerged from the philosophy of science provide us with a well-developed framework for designing the structure and content of explanations to be provided for information systems in documentation, in help systems, and in embedded explanation facilities when these are provided. The work described in this paper is an attempt to draw some of these philosophical ideas into the realm of information systems by briefly reviewing four of the major models of explanation from the philosophy of science literature: deductive-nomological explanation, functional explanation, rational choice explanation, and pragmatic explanation. Elements are drawn from each of these models and are related to their potential utility in the information systems field. The approach to philosophy of science’s contributions to information systems explanation is from the perspective of information systems research and practice, not philosophy, in an attempt to ‘pull’, not ‘push’, these ideas into the realm of information systems development and use.
Haynes, Steven R., "Explanations of Information Systems: Can Philosophy Help?" (2000). ECIS 2000 Proceedings. 44.