Beyond Hempel: Reframing the Debate about Scientific Explanation

Philosophy of Science 89 (3):585-603 (2022)
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I argue that Carl Hempel’s pioneering work on scientific explanation introduced an assumption that Hempel never motivated, namely, that explanation is an aim of science. Ever since, it has remained largely unquestioned in analytic philosophy of science. By expanding the historical scope of the debate on explanation to philosophers from the first half of the twentieth century, I show that the debate should include a critical reflection on Hempel’s assumption. This reflection includes two problems: how to motivate one’s position on the aims of scientific knowledge and how to decide which examples count as expressions of those aims.



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Fons Dewulf
Tilburg University

Citations of this work

We Have Never Been “New Experimentalists”: On the Rise and Fall of the Turn to Experimentation in the 1980s.Jan Potters & Massimiliano Simons - 2023 - Hopos: The Journal of the International Society for the History of Philosophy of Science 13 (1):91-119.

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References found in this work

Tractatus logico-philosophicus.Ludwig Wittgenstein - 1922 - Filosoficky Casopis 52:336-341.
Studies in the logic of explanation.Carl Gustav Hempel & Paul Oppenheim - 1948 - Philosophy of Science 15 (2):135-175.
The Empirical Stance.Bas C. Van Fraassen - 2004 - New York: Yale University Press.
The Aim and Structure of Physical Theory.Pierre Duhem & Philip P. Wiener - 1955 - Science and Society 19 (1):85-87.
Four Decades of Scientific Explanation.Wesley C. Salmon & Anne Fagot-Largeault - 1989 - History and Philosophy of the Life Sciences 16 (2):355.

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