Scientific Explanation

Front Cover
Philip Kitcher, Wesley C. Salmon
U of Minnesota Press, May 25, 1962 - Science - 528 pages

Scientific Explanation was first published in 1962. Minnesota Archive Editions uses digital technology to make long-unavailable books once again accessible, and are published unaltered from the original University of Minnesota Press editions.

Is a new consensus emerging in the philosophy of science? The nine distinguished contributors to this volume apply that question to the realm of scientific explanation and, although their conclusions vary, they agree in one respect: there definitely was an old consensus.

Co-editor Wesley Salmon's opening essay, "Four Decades of Scientific Explanation," grounds the entire discussion. His point of departure is the founding document of the old consensus: a 1948 paper by Carl G. Hempel and Paul Oppenheim, "Studies in the Logic of Explanation," that set forth, with remarkable clarity, a mode of argument that came to be known as the deductive-nomological model. This approach, holding that explanation dies not move beyond the sphere of empirical knowledge, remained dominant during the hegemony of logical empiricism from 1950 to 1975. Salmon traces in detail the rise and breakup of the old consensus, and examines the degree to which there is, if not a new consensus, at least a kind of reconciliation on this issue among contemporary philosophers of science and clear agreement that science can indeed tell us why.

The other contributors, in the order of their presentations, are: Peter Railton, Matti Sintonen, Paul W. Humphreys, David Papineau, Nancy Cartwright, James Woodward, Merrilee H. Salmon, and Philip Kitcher.

 

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Contents

Four Decades of Scientific Explanation by Wesley C Salmon
3
01 A Bit of Background
4
02 The Received View
8
Peace in the Valley but Some Trouble in the Foothills
11
The DeductiveNomological Model
12
12 Explanation in History and Prehistory
25
13 Teleology and Functional Explanation
26
2 The Second Decade 195867 Manifest DestinyExpansion and Conflict
33
12 Action and Causation Again
328
13 The Metaphysics of Probability
330
14 Causal Chains
331
15 Causal Asymmetry
334
16 Digression on Independence Requirements
337
17 Causal Processes and PseudoProcesses
341
18 Negative Causes
343
Capacities and Abstractions by Nancy Cartwright
349

21 A Major Source of Conflict
35
22 Deeper Linguistic Challenges
37
23 Famous Counterexamples to the DeductiveNomological Model
46
24 Statistical Explanation
50
241 The DeductiveStatistical Model
51
242 The InductiveStatistical Model
53
25 Early Objections to the InductiveStatistical Model
58
3 The Third Decade 196877 Deepening Differences
61
31 The StatisticalRelevance Model
62
32 Problems with Maximal Specificity
68
33 Coffas Dispositional Theory of Inductive Explanation
83
34 Explanation and Evidence
89
35 Explanations of Laws
94
36 Are Explanations Arguments?
101
37 The Challenge of Causality
107
38 Teleological and Functional Explanation
111
39 The End of a DecadeThe End of an Era?
116
4 The Fourth Decade 197887 A Time of Maturation
117
42 Theoretical Explanation
122
43 Descriptive vs Explanatory Knowledge
126
44 The Pragmatics of Explanation
135
45 Empiricism and Realism
150
46 Railtons NomotheticMechanistic Account
154
Statistical vs Causal Relevance
166
48 Probabilistic Causality
168
49 Deductivism
172
410 Explanations of Laws Again
177
411 A Fundamental Principle Challenged
178
5 Conclusion Peaceful Coexistence?
180
52 Agenda for the Fifth Decade
185
Chronological Bibliography
196
Explanation and Metaphysical Controversy by Peter Railton
220
In Search of the Rationale by Matti Sintonen
253
1 WhyQuestions
254
2 A Thin Logic of Questions
257
3 The Epistemic Conception of Explanation
261
4 Theory Nets and Explanatory Commitments
265
5 Pruning the Web of Belief
269
6 Beyond the Third Dogma of Empiricism
273
The Causes Some of the Causes and Nothing But the Causes by Paul W Humphreys
283
2 The Multiplicity Diversity and Incompleteness of Causal Explanations
285
3 The Canonical Form for Causal Explanations
286
4 Ontology
288
5 Why Probability Values Are Not Explanatory
293
6 Why Ask WhyQuestions?
296
The Causal Failures of the CoveringLaw Model
300
Pure Mixed and Spurious Probabilities and Their Significance for a Reductionist Theory of Causation by David Papineau
307
2 Some Initial Intuitions
309
3 Pure and Mixed Probabilities
310
4 Screening Off and Spurious Correlations
312
5 Spuriousness and Statistical Research
314
6 The Importance of the Single Case
315
7 The Compatibility of Probabilistic Intuitions with a Deterministic View of Causation
317
8 The Deterministic Causation of Chances
319
9 Rational Action
321
10 Quantitative Decisions
322
11 Causal and Evidential Decision Theory
324
2 The Failure of the Defeasibility Account
350
3 Abstractions and Idealizations
352
4 Conclusion
355
The Causal Mechanical Model of Explanation by James Woodward
357
Explanation in the Social Sciences by Merrilee H Salmon
384
2 Interpretativism
388
3 Rationality and Explanations of Behavior
394
4 The Existence of Appropriate Laws
399
5 Ethical Issues
404
6 Conclusion
408
Explanatory Unification and the Causal Structure of the World by Philip Kitcher
410
12 Hempels Problems
411
2 The Pragmatics of Explanation
413
21 Van Fraassens Pragmatics
414
22 Why Pragmatics Is Not Enough
415
23 Possible Goals for a Theory of Explanation
417
3 Explanation as Delineation of Causes
419
31 Causal WhyQuestions and Causal Explanations
420
32 Are There Noncausal Explanations of Singular Propositions?
422
33 Causal Explanation and Theoretical Explanation
428
4 Explanation as Unification
430
42 Argument Patterns
432
43 Systematization of Belief
434
44 WhyQuestions Revisited
435
45 Explanatory Unification and Causal Dependence
436
46 Unification and Theoretical Explanation
437
461 Classical Genetics
438
462 Darwinian Evolutionary Theory
442
463 The Theory of the Chemical Bond
445
464 Conclusions from the Examples
447
5 A Defense of Deductive Chauvinism
448
51 The Objection from Quantum Mechanics
450
52 The Idealization of MacroPhenomena
452
53 Further Sources of Indeterminism?
454
54 Two Popular Examples
455
55 Explanation and Responsibility
457
6 Epistemological Difficulties for the Causal Approach
459
61 Humes Ghost
460
62 Causal Processes and Causal Interactions
461
621 Some Problems about Processes
463
622 Troubles with Interactions
464
63 Causation and Counterfactuals
470
64 Justifying Counterfactuals
473
65 Changing the Epistemological Framework
475
7 Comparative Unification
477
72 The Possibility of Gerrymandering
480
73 Asymmetry and Irrelevance
482
732 Towers and Shadows
484
733 When Shadows Cross
487
74 Comparative Unification and Scientific Change
488
8 Metaphysical Issues
494
83 Correct Explanation Again
497
84 Conclusions
499
Contributors
507
Index
509
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About the author (1962)

Wesley C. Salmon was University Professor of Philosophy at the University of Pittsburgh.

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