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. (shrink)
Reminiscences of Peter, by P. Oppenheim.--Natural kinds, by W. V. Quine.--Inductive independence and the paradoxes of confirmation, by J. Hintikka.--Partial entailment as a basis for inductive logic, by W. C. Salmon.--Are there non-deductive logics?, by W. Sellars.--Statistical explanation vs. statistical inference, by R. C. Jeffre--Newcomb's problem and two principles of choice, by R. Nozick.--The meaning of time, by A. Grünbaum.--Lawfulness as mind-dependent, by N. Rescher.--Events and their descriptions: some considerations, by J. Kim.--The individuation of events, by D. Davidson.--On properties, by (...) H. Putnam.--A method for avoiding the Curry paradox, by F. B. Fitch.--Publications (1934-1969) by Carl G. Hempel (p. -270). (shrink)
The article is a reappraisal of the requirement of maximal specificity (RMS) proposed by the author as a means of avoiding "ambiguity" in probabilistic explanation. The author argues that RMS is not, as he had held in one earlier publication, a rough substitute for the requirement of total evidence, but is independent of it and has quite a different rationale. A group of recent objections to RMS is answered by stressing that the statistical generalizations invoked in probabilistic explanations must be (...) lawlike, and by arguing that predicates fit for occurrence in lawlike statistical probability statements must meet two conditions, at least one of which is violated in each of the counterexamples adduced in the objections. These considerations suggest the conception that probabilistic-statistical laws concern the long-run frequency of some characteristic within a reference class as characterized by some particular "description" or predicate expression, and that replacement of such a description by a coextensive one may turn a statement that is lawlike into another that is not. Finally, to repair a defect noted by Grandy, the author's earlier formulation of RMS is replaced by a modified version. (shrink)
Editor James Fetzer presents an analytical and historical introduction and a comprehensive bibliography together with selections of many of Carl G. Hempel's most important studies to give students and scholars an ideal opportunity to appreciate the enduring contributions of one of the most influential philosophers of science of the 20th century.
Carl Gustav Hempel (1905-1997) was one of the preeminent figures in the philosophical movement of logical empiricism. He was a member of both the Berlin and Vienna circles, fled Germany in 1934 and finally settled in the US where he taught for many years in New York, Princeton, and Pittsburgh. The essays in this collection come from the early and late periods of Hempel's career and chart his intellectual odyssey from a rigorous commitment to logical positivism in the 1930s (when (...) Hempel allied himself closely with Carnap) to a more sociological approach close in spirit to the work of Neurath and Kuhn. The collection brings together essays which have up till now been difficult to find, four of which are appearing in English for the first time. Cumulatively they offer a fresh perspective on Hempel's intellectual development and on the rise and demise of logical empiricism. (shrink)
The fundamental tenet of modern empiricism is the view that all non-analytic knowledge is based on experience. Let us call this thesis the principle of empiricism.  Contemporary logical empiricism has added  to it the maxim that a sentence makes a cognitively meaningful assertion, and thus can be said to be either true or false, only if it is either (1) analytic or self-contradictory or (2) capable, at least in principle, of experiential test. According to this so-called empiricist criterion (...) of cognitive meaning, or of cognitive significance, many of the formulations of traditional metaphysics and large parts of epistemology are devoid of cognitive significance--however rich some of them may be in non-cognitive import by virtue of their emotive appeal or the moral inspiration they offer. Similarly certain doctrines which have been, at one time or another, formulated within empirical science or its border disciplines are so contrived as to be incapable of test by any conceivable evidence; they are therefore qualified as pseudo- [p. 42:] hypotheses, which assert nothing, and which therefore have no explanatory or predictive force whatever. This verdict applies, for example, to the neo-vitalist speculations about entelechies or vital forces, and to the "telefinalist hypothesis" propounded by Lecomte du Noüy. (shrink)
As is rather generally admitted today, the terms of our language in scientific as well as in everyday use, are not completely precise, but exhibit a more or less high degree of vagueness. It is the purpose of this paper to examine the consequences of this circumstance for a series of questions which belong to the field of logic. First of all, the meaning and the logical status of the concept of vagueness will be analyzed; then we will try to (...) find out whether logical terms are free from vagueness, and whether vagueness has an influence upon the validity of the customary principles of logic; finally, the possibilities of diminishing the vagueness of scientific concepts by suitable logical devices will be briefly dealt with. As starting point for the subsequent considerations we choose the clear and stimulating analysis of the concept of vagueness which has recently been carried out by Max Black () and which has suggested the considerations of this paper. (shrink)
In this first issue of the new Erkenntnis, it seems fitting to recall at least briefly the character and the main achievements of its distinguished namesake and predecessor. The old Erkenntnis came into existence when Hans Reichenbach and Rudolf Carnap assumed the editorship of the Annalen der Philosophie and gave the journal its new title and its characteristic orientation; the first issue appeared in 1930. The journal was backed by the Gesellschaft f r Empirische Philosophie in Berlin, in which Reichenbach, (...) Walter Dubislav, and Kurt Grelling were the leading figures, and by the Verein Ernst Mach in Vienna, whose philosophical position was strongly influenced by that of the Vienna Circle; a brief account of these groups, and of several kindred schools and trends of scientific and philosophical thinking, was given by Otto Neurath in his 'Historische Anmerkungen' (Vol. 1, pp. 311-314). As Reichenbach noted in his introduction to the first issue, the editors of Erkenntnis were concerned to carry on philosophical inquiry in close consideration of the procedures and results of the various scientific disciplines: analysis of scientific research and its presuppositions was expected to yield insight into the character of all human knowledge, while at the same time, the objectivity and the progressive character of science inspired the convection that philosophy need not remain an array of conflicting 'systems', but could attain to the status of objective knowledge. As a student in Berlin and Vienna during those years, I experienced vividly the exhilarating sense, shared by those close to those two philosophical groups, of being jointly engaged in a novel and challenging intellectual enterprise in which philosophical issues were dealt with 'scientifically' and philosophical claims were amenable to support or criticism by logically rigorous arguments. The 'logical analyses' and 'rational reconstructions' set forth by adherents of this program often made extensive use of the concepts, methods, and symbolic apparatus of contemporary symbolic logic, whose importance for philosophy was the subject of Carnap's article, 'Die Alte und die Neue Logik', which appeared in the first issue.. (shrink)