Hempel and Oppenheim and explanation in science

Filed under: — Bravus @ 11:02 am

This one got the AI thinking!

Hempel and Oppenheim’s “deductive-nomological” model of explanation is a widely accepted framework for scientific explanation. The model is based on the idea that a scientific explanation is a deductive argument that shows how a particular phenomenon is the necessary consequence of a set of antecedent conditions or laws.

The basic structure of the model is as follows:

  1. Observation: The first step in the process is the observation of a particular phenomenon that requires explanation.
  2. Hypothesis: Next, the scientist proposes a hypothesis or explanation for the phenomenon.
  3. Deduction: The hypothesis is then subjected to deductive testing, which involves deriving specific predictions from the hypothesis using relevant laws and theories.
  4. Observation: These predictions are then compared to further observations of the phenomenon.
  5. Conclusion: If the predictions are confirmed by the observations, the hypothesis is considered to be supported and is retained as a valid explanation. If the predictions are not confirmed, the hypothesis is rejected or revised.

According to Hempel and Oppenheim, a good scientific explanation must satisfy two criteria:

  1. It must be logically valid, meaning that the conclusion must follow necessarily from the premises.
  2. It must be empirically adequate, meaning that the explanation must be consistent with all relevant empirical evidence.

The deductive-nomological model has been criticized for its strict requirement of deductive validity and its neglect of explanatory context and background knowledge. However, it remains a useful framework for understanding how scientific explanations are generated and evaluated.

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