Ideas from 'Aspects of Scientific Explanation' by Carl Hempel [1965], by Theme Structure

green numbers give full details    |     back to texts     |     unexpand these ideas


14. Science / A. Basis of Science / 4. Prediction
Explanatory facts also predict, and predictive facts also explain
                        Full Idea: Hempel said every scientific explanation is potentially a prediction - it would have predicted the phenomenon in question, had it not already been known. But also the information used to make a prediction is potentially an explanation.
                        From: report of Carl Hempel (Aspects of Scientific Explanation [1965]) by Samir Okasha - Philosophy of Science: Very Short Intro (2nd ed) 3
                        A reaction: Sounds too neatly glib to be quite true. If you explain a single event there is nothing to predict. You might predict accurately from a repetitive pattern, with no understanding at all of the pattern.
14. Science / D. Explanation / 2. Types of Explanation / e. Lawlike explanations
For Hempel, explanations are deductive-nomological or probabilistic-statistical
                        Full Idea: Hempel proposes that explanations involve covering laws and antecedent conditions; this view (the 'covering law' view) has two versions, the deductive-nomological model and the probabilistic-statistical model of explanation.
                        From: report of Carl Hempel (Aspects of Scientific Explanation [1965]) by Alexander Bird - Philosophy of Science Ch.2
                        A reaction: The obvious problem with this approach, it seem to me, is that the laws themselves need explanation, and I don't see how a law can be foundational unless there is a divine law-giver. Are the laws arbitrary and axiomatic?
The covering-law model is for scientific explanation; historical explanation is quite different
                        Full Idea: To put forward the covering-law models of scientific explanation is not to deny that there are other contexts in which we speak of explanation. .That it does not fit explaining the rules of Hanoverian succession is to miss the intent of our model.
                        From: Carl Hempel (Aspects of Scientific Explanation [1965], p. 412-3), quoted by David-Hillel Ruben - Explaining Explanation Ch 1
                        A reaction: Important to get that clear. It then requires a clear demarcation between science and the rest, and it had better not rule out biology because it is having a love affair with physics.
14. Science / D. Explanation / 2. Types of Explanation / g. Causal explanations
Hempel rejects causation as part of explanation
                        Full Idea: Hempel explicitly rejects the idea that causality plays any essential explanatory role.
                        From: report of Carl Hempel (Aspects of Scientific Explanation [1965], p.352) by Wesley Salmon - Four Decades of Scientific Explanation 1.1
                        A reaction: Hempel champions the 'covering-law' model of explanation. It strikes me that Hempel is so utterly wrong about this that his views aren't even a candidate for correctness, but then for a long time his views were orthodoxy.