Graduate studies at Western
Synthese 20 (3):308 - 334 (1969)
|Abstract||The distinction between explanation and prediction has received much attention in recent literature, but the equally important distinction between explanation and description (or between prediction and description) remains blurred. This latter distinction is particularly important in the social sciences, where probabilistic models (or theories) often play dual roles as explanatory and descriptive devices. The distinction between explanation (or prediction) and description is explicated in the present paper in terms of information theory. The explanatory (or predictive) power of a probabilistic model is identified with information taken from (or transmitted by) the environment (e.g., the independent, experimentally manipulated variables), while the descriptive power of a model reflects additional information taken from (or transmitted by) the data. Although information is usually transmitted by the data in the process of estimating parameters, it turns out that the number of free parameters is not a reliable index of transmitted information. Thus, the common practice of treating parameters as degrees-of-freedom in testing probabilistic models is questionable. Finally, this information-theoretic analysis of explanation, prediction, and description suggests ways of resolving some recent controversies surrounding the pragmatic aspects of explanation and the so-called structural identity thesis.|
|Keywords||No keywords specified (fix it)|
|Categories||categorize this paper)|
|Through your library||Configure|
Similar books and articles
Nicholas Rescher (1963). Discrete State Systems, Markov Chains, and Problems in the Theory of Scientific Explanation and Prediction. Philosophy of Science 30 (4):325-345.
Rollin W. Workman (1964). What Makes an Explanation. Philosophy of Science 31 (3):241-254.
Jon Williamson (2011). Models for Prediction, Explanation and Control: Recursive Bayesian Networks. Theoria: Revista de Teoría, Historia y Fundamentos de la Ciencia 26 (70):5-33.
James Woodward (1987). On an Information-Theoretic Model of Explanation. Philosophy of Science 54 (1):21-44.
Kristin Andrews (2003). Knowing Mental States: The Asymmetry of Psychological Prediction and Explanation. In Quentin Smith & Aleksandar Jokic (eds.), Consciousness: New Philosophical Perspectives. Oxford University Press.
Heather E. Douglas (2009). Reintroducing Prediction to Explanation. Philosophy of Science 76 (4):444-463.
Joseph F. Hanna (1978). On Transmitted Information as a Measure of Explanatory Power. Philosophy of Science 45 (4):531-562.
David Michael Kaplan (2011). Explanation and Description in Computational Neuroscience. Synthese 183 (3):339-373.
Added to index2009-01-28
Total downloads74 ( #13,733 of 739,533 )
Recent downloads (6 months)1 ( #61,680 of 739,533 )
How can I increase my downloads?