David Bourget (Western Ontario)
David Chalmers (ANU, NYU)
Rafael De Clercq
Jack Alan Reynolds
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Erkenntnis 29 (1):1 - 33 (1988)
In this paper an attempt is made at developing the notion of a real and complete empirical explanation as excluding all forms of potential or incomplete explanations. This explanation is, however, no longer conceived as the proper aim of empirical science, for it can certainly be gleaned from recent epistemological publications that no comprehensive notion of a real and complete scientific explanation is likely to be constructed from within empirical science. Contrary to common understanding the empirical explanation, deductive-nomological as well as statistical explanation, is considered here only as motive of scientific activities, i.e., as common aim of a transcending cooperation of scientific and non-scientific social practice. Following from this the proper aim of empirical science now consists in the development of practically relevant explanatory theories.This redetermination of the aim of scientific activities of empirical science also means criticism of the unification of deductive-nomological and statistical explanations, as it has been proposed by Wolfgang Stegmüller in his pragmatisch-epistemische Wende. For both forms of empirical explanation must be referred to fundamentally different kinds of practical relevance, the former playing a more important role in the advancement of social practice. Stegmüller's development of a comprehensive probabilistic notion of empirical explanation, as tied up to pragmatic knowledge-situations, in a way already transcends a scientifically immanent determination of it, but he seems to have stopped halfway on the road to practically relevant empirical explanations. Several insufficiencies with his probabilistic notion of empirical explanation are shown up in this paper as a consequence of his abiding by pragmatic, and not penetrating to practical, knowledge-situations. The final result of it, however, consists in a clarification and a modification of the concept of deductive-nomological explanation, originally developed by Hempel and Oppenheim.
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