Single Idea 6760

[catalogued under 14. Science / D. Explanation / 2. Types of Explanation / l. Probabilistic explanations]

Full Idea

An operation for cancer might lead to a patient's death, and so it explains the patient's death while at the same time reducing the probability of death.

Gist of Idea

An operation might reduce the probability of death, yet explain a death


Alexander Bird (Philosophy of Science [1998], Ch.2)

Book Reference

Bird,Alexander: 'Philosophy of Science' [UCL Press 2000], p.76

A Reaction

This attacks Hempel's 'covering law' approach. Increasing probability of something clearly does not necessarily explain it, though it often will. Feeding you contaminated food will increase the probability of your death, and may cause it.