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Theories of Explanation 1st Edition

5.0 out of 5 stars 2 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0195049718
ISBN-10: 0195049713
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Editorial Reviews

Review

"Covers virtually all the main currents in contemporary thinking about scientific explanation. We need more collections like this in philosophy of science."--Alan Richardson, Northwestern University

"Will be useful in a course focused on the issue of scientific explanation. It is a collection of nine seminal papers on this topic and so provides in one place an account of many of the developments in recent philosophical theorizing about explanation....Clearly provides a very useful set of readings for an advanced philosophy of science course."--Teaching Philosophy

"The most up-to-date collection of writings on explanation available. An excellent classroom resource."--Valentine Dusek, University of New Hampshire

"An excellent collection."--Warren Schmaus, Illinois Institute of Technology

"These selections excellently cover the range of classic and current accounts of explanation."--Gary R. Weaver, Northwestern College

"The most up-to-date collection of writings on explanation available...an excellent classroom resource."--Valentine Dusek, University of New Hampshire

About the Author

Joseph C. Pitt Professor of Philosophy Virginia Polytechnic Institute
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 234 pages
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press; 1 edition (March 24, 1988)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0195049713
  • ISBN-13: 978-0195049718
  • Product Dimensions: 6.1 x 0.7 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 13.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,230,815 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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This is book discusses the foundations of Explanations in ridiculous detail. Virtually all the possible explanation types are documented from E-Type Explanations to Pragmatic Explanations. The 1948 essay by Carl G. Hempel and Paul Oppenheim, "Studies in the Logic of Explanation", which introduced the Deductive-Nomological (D-N) Model on which most work on scientific explanation was based for the following four decades is found in this anthology and is itself worth the money for the book. This essay laid a good foundation for investigation of explanations. The explanations here are used by scientists and also non scientists alike so people who think that scientific explanations are different from common types of explanations will be astounded to find that they too used these types of explanations everyday.

Here's all the essay titles with their respective authors with a few points that they discuss.

1. Introduction - Joseph Pitt

Success of the sciences, the role of explanations in science

2. Studies in the Logic of Explanation - Carl G. Hempel and Paul Oppenheim

Elementary survey of scientific explanations, basic pattern of scientific explanations, logical and empirical conditions for adequacy, explanations in non-physical sciences and motivational and teleological approaches, levels of explanation and Emergence, problems of the concepts of general laws, logical analysis of laws and explanations, definition of law and explanation for a model language, power of systematic theories, explanation for the power of systematic theories, and a Postscript (1964) by Carl G. Hempel

3.
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Format: Paperback
Theories of Explanation is a fascinating book about the philosophy of science and technology ( S & T), and methodologies for building knowledge and explaining the knowledge building process. While the subject itself is absolutely interesting, the reading is tough, in fact very tough. First, part of the reason is that the book is a collection of papers by different authors, each with a distinct writing. Second, the topical discussions are highly specialized - very deep I should say. Even so, the persistent reader will benefit from the book.

With S & T having become so much a part of everyday life, it is hard to believe that philosophers of S & T still have jobs. Even harder is that scientific knowledge needs an explanation, but that is precisely the point of the book. The central part of the point is that people study science because of the success of science and its technological impact on human life. Yet it is not so clear how to explain what happens. Does technological change lead to scientific change, change in knowledge determine change in science, or are the interactions non-causal? Questions like this one are questions about "the role of explanation" (Chapter 1).

Positivists would assume a strong condition by which knowledge is verifiable explanations. A weak condition has it that knowledge requires only confirmable explanations. Both conditions leave open questions about the truthfulness of verifiable or confirmable explanations. Some philosophers have stepped into this vacuum to define knowledge as simply "true beliefs".

The ten chapters of the book focus on explanation, where explanation, according to the editor of the book, is the "Answer" to the question "Why".
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