If you're not interested in prediction, the most important is to guarantee that you have the right model and all the relevant variables to te problem - which is different than "check that conditional effects are just reasonable numbers", you can't know from guess what would be a reasonable number. The overfitting problem (larger AIC) acts more on giving your estimators more variance, which isn't all that bad if you're not looking into prediction, as it won't change consistency of the estimators.
EDIT: As Richard pointed out, it's not as simple as I made it look like. Whether it's for prediction or explanation, it's always good to find parsimonious models. As i said, your main goal is to include every variable in the true model, but as you can't know for sure which those are, it might be good to not include the ones you don't have much justification in the name of smaller variance, because even if you have consistent estimators (and can talk about causality), large variance means that your estimates will be largely affected by noise on the sample.