David Bourget (Western Ontario)
David Chalmers (ANU, NYU)
Rafael De Clercq
Jack Alan Reynolds
Learn more about PhilPapers
Journal of Philosophy 39 (2):35-48 (1942)
The classic logical positivist account of historical explanation, putting forward what is variously called the "regularity interpretation" (#Gardiner, The Nature of Historical Explanation), the "covering law model" (#Dray, Laws and Explanation in History), or the "deductive model" (Michael #Scriven, "Truisms as Grounds for Historical Explanations"). See also #Danto, Narration and Knowledge, for further criticisms of the model. Hempel formalizes historical explanation as involving (a) statements of determining (initial and boundary) conditions for the event to be explained, and (b) statements of general laws that imply that whenever events of the kind described in (a) occur, an event of the kind to be explained will take place. He admits that in practice historians rarely explain historical events in this way, but instead give only fragmentary "explanation sketches." Such sketches can, however, be "scientifically acceptable," providing it points to where "more specific statements" are to be found (351). An interesting aspect of the article is its "late" positivist, proto‑Kuhnian assertion that "the separation of 'pure description' and 'hypothetical generalization and theory construction' in empirical science is unwarranted" (356). But Hempel does not work out the wider implications of this important conclusion. It is also worth noting that he himself was not much interested in the philosophy of history; other authors took up his model and discussed it within that context. Usefully discussed by #Ricoeur, Time and Narrative, 1:112‑17
|Keywords||No keywords specified (fix it)|
|Categories||categorize this paper)|
Setup an account with your affiliations in order to access resources via your University's proxy server
Configure custom proxy (use this if your affiliation does not provide a proxy)
|Through your library|
References found in this work BETA
No references found.
Citations of this work BETA
Uri D. Leibowitz (2011). Scientific Explanation and Moral Explanation. Noûs 45 (3):472-503.
Ruth Weintraub (2013). Induction and Inference to the Best Explanation. Philosophical Studies 166 (1):203-216.
Giuseppina D'Oro (2005). Idealism and the Philosophy of Mind. Inquiry 48 (5):395-412.
Paul Needham (1999). Reduction and Abduction in Chemistry-a Response to Scerri. International Studies in the Philosophy of Science 13 (2):169 – 184.
Stuart Glennan (2010). Ephemeral Mechanisms and Historical Explanation. Erkenntnis 72 (2):251 - 266.
Similar books and articles
Beth Preston (1998). Why is a Wing Like a Spoon? A Pluralist Theory of Function. Journal of Philosophy 95 (5):215-254.
Fred I. Dretske (1977). Laws of Nature. Philosophy of Science 44 (2):248-268.
Robert Arp (2007). Evolution and Two Popular Proposals for the Definition of Function. Journal for General Philosophy of Science 38 (1):19 - 30.
Igor Hanzel (2008). Idealizations and Concretizations in Laws and Explanations in Physics. Journal for General Philosophy of Science 39 (2):273 - 301.
Destutt de Tracy & Antoine Louis Claude (1811/2006). A Commentary and Review of Montesquieu's Spirit of Laws: Prepared for Press From the Original. Lawbook Exchange.
Alex Rosenberg (2001). How is Biological Explanation Possible? British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 52 (4):735-760.
Ulrich Krohs (2009). Functions as Based on a Concept of General Design. Synthese 166 (1):69-89.
Carl Gustav Hempel (1988). Provisos: A Philosophical Problem Concerning the Inferential Function of Scientific Laws. In A. Grünbaum & W. Salmon (eds.), The Limits of Deductivism. University of California Press, Berkeley, Ca. 19Ð36.
Leon J. Goldstein (1967). Theory in History. Philosophy of Science 34 (1):23-40.
Darren Staloff (1995). The Search for a Meaningful Past. Teaching Co..
Added to index2009-01-28
Total downloads860 ( #82 of 1,102,971 )
Recent downloads (6 months)82 ( #610 of 1,102,971 )
How can I increase my downloads?