David Bourget (Western Ontario)
David Chalmers (ANU, NYU)
Rafael De Clercq
Jack Alan Reynolds
Learn more about PhilPapers
Inquiry 11 (1-4):368 – 387 (1968)
It is often argued (as by Hempel and Nagel) that genuine historical explanations — if these are to be had — must exhibit a connection between events to be explained and universal or probabilistic laws (or 'hypotheses'). This connection may take either a 'strong' or 'weak' form. The historian may show that a statement of the event to be explained is a logical consequence of statements of reasonably well-confirmed universal laws and occurrences linked by the laws to the event to be explained. Or the historian may show that a statement of the event to be explained has high inductive probability conferred upon it given statements of reasonably well-confirmed probabilistic laws and occurrences so linked by the laws to the type of event to be explained that one finds the occurrence of the particular event likely. This essay focuses on 'strong' explanations which meet a 'deducibility' requirement (for reasons given in the body of the article). It is argued that explanations in history (at least where it is plausible to construe them as 'non-rational') may meet a 'deducibility' requirement and count as genuine historical explanations although they do not meet a 'covering law' requirement (i. e. none of the premises of these explanations state universal or probabilistic hypotheses). It is required, however, that at least one premise in such explanations assert a reasonably well-confirmed condition (e. g., a co-variation) which can be taken as a sign or indication of the presence of laws. Rather than appealing to laws, the historian may appeal to the well-founded possibility of laws.
|Keywords||No keywords specified (fix it)|
|Categories||categorize this paper)|
|Through your library||Configure|
References found in this work BETA
Carl G. Hempel (1942). The Function of General Laws in History. Journal of Philosophy 39 (2):35-48.
Michael Scriven (1963). New Issues in the Logic of Explanation. In Sidney Hook (ed.), Philosophy and History. [New York]New York University Press.
Citations of this work BETA
Sten Spam Nikon (1971). Covering Laws in Historical Practice. Inquiry 14 (1-4):445-463.
Similar books and articles
Hugh Lehman (1972). Statistical Explanation. Philosophy of Science 39 (4):500-506.
Michael Martin (1968). Situational Logic and Covering Law Explanations in History. Inquiry 11 (1-4):388 – 399.
Raymond Martin (1981). Beyond Positivism: A Research Program for Philosophy of History. Philosophy of Science 48 (1):112-121.
Robert C. Cummins (2000). "How Does It Work" Versus "What Are the Laws?": Two Conceptions of Psychological Explanation. In F. Keil & Robert A. Wilson (eds.), Explanation and Cognition, 117-145. MIT Press.
Not By Me (1983). Historical Laws in Modern Biology. Acta Biotheoretica 32 (3).
Joel Press (2009). Physical Explanations and Biological Explanations, Empirical Laws and a Priori Laws. Biology and Philosophy 24 (3):359-374.
Evan Fales (1980). Uniqueness and Historical Laws. Philosophy of Science 47 (2):260-276.
J. Alberto Coffa (1977). Probabilities: Reasonable or True? Philosophy of Science 44 (2):186-198.
Thomas Nickles (1971). Covering Law Explanation. Philosophy of Science 38 (4):542-561.
Added to index2009-03-05
Total downloads11 ( #112,960 of 1,088,398 )
Recent downloads (6 months)0
How can I increase my downloads?