To explain the phenomena in the world of our experience, to answer the question “why?” rather than only the question “what?”, is one of the foremost objectives of all rational inquiry; and especially, scientific research in its various branches strives to go beyond a mere description of its subject matter by providing an explanation of the phenomena it investigates. While there is rather general agreement about this chief objective of science, there exists considerable difference of opinion as to the function (...) and the essential characteristics of scientific explanation. In the present essay, an attempt will be made to shed some light on these issues by means of an elementary survey of the basic pattern of scientific explanation and a subsequent more rigorous analysis of the concept of law and of the logical structure of explanatory arguments. (shrink)
1. The problem. The concept of confirmation of an hypothesis by empirical evidence is of fundamental importance in the methodology of empirical science. For, first of all, a sentence cannot even be considered as expressing an empirical hypothesis at all unless it is theoretically capable of confirmation or disconfirmation, i.e. unless the kind of evidence can be characterized whose occurrence would confirm, or disconfirm, the sentence in question. And secondly, the acceptance or rejection of a sentence which does represent an (...) empirical hypothesis is determined, in scientific procedure, by the degree to which it is confirmed by relevant evidence. (shrink)
Like a number of other authors, Miller uses the term “emergent” interchangeably with “unpredictable” and employs it as a property term, i.e., in contexts of the form “Event E is emergent.” As we showed in our article, however, predictability and unpredictability as well as emergence are relations; they can be predicated of an event only relatively to some body of information. Thus, a lunar eclipse is predictable by means of information including data on the locations and speeds, at some particular (...) time, of the celestial bodies involved, and the laws of celestial mechanics plus certain principles of optics; it is unpredictable on the basis of, say, alone. Consequently, the phrase “Event E is unpredictable” is incomplete, and hence meaningless, in much the same sense as the expression “Straight line l is parallel.” Similar observations apply to the term “emergent,” which is frequently used to characterize events which, in a sense examined in detail in our article, are not explainable by a micro-structure theory. (shrink)
In 1948 Hempel and Oppenheim proposed an explicatum for the concept of systematic power 1, pp. 164–167. Since that time some shortcomings have been found in this first attempt. It is the purpose of this paper to show that one can keep the basic approach of the ‘48 paper, and overcome the known disadvantages by means of changes in the details of the definition. In this improvement certain tools will be used that were not available in 1948.
La théorie traditionnelle des concepts étant classificatoire, ne comprend qu’une partie des formes de notre pensée. Comme complément nécessaire, l’auteur met en relief l’importance d’une catégorie de concepts qu’il propose de dénommer « concepts ordinateurs », parce qu’ils déterminent un certain ordre des objets de leur domaine d’application. Leur structure logique est élucidée par la théorie logistique des relations. L’auteur compare les avantages et les désavantages des deux formes de pensée et explique les raisons pour lesquelles une tendance à favoriser (...) les concepts ordinateurs correspond au progrès de notre connaissance. (shrink)