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Covering laws: general statements of law which, together with empirical conditions within the so-called deductive-nomological model (according to Hempel and Oppenheim) form the premises from which causal explanations can be obtained. See also explanation, causal explanation.

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Annotation: The above characterizations of concepts are neither definitions nor exhausting presentations of problems related to them. Instead, they are intended to give a short introduction to the contributions below. – Lexicon of Arguments.

 
Author Concept Summary/Quotes Sources

Carl Hempel on Covering Laws - Dictionary of Arguments

Wright I 23
Covering Laws/Hempel/von Wright, G. H.: the name for this approach by Hempel comes from a critic of this theory: William Dray(1).
I 24
Subsumption theory/terminology/von Wright, G. H.: I choose this expression instead of the term of Hempel's Covering Law theory. There are two options:
a) deductive-nomological: in this variant, all subsequent events logically follow from the existence of a situation and from laws.
I 25
b) inductive-probabilistic: here there is a general law, the "bridge" or the "ribbon", which links the basis of the explanation to the subject matter. This is a probability hypothesis according to which, if events E1... Em (the base) are given, it is very likely that event E will take place(2).
G. H. von WrightVsHempel: in what sense - if at all in one - can one speak of explanation?
I 155
Hempel's terminology fluctuated. He called non-eductive explanations alternately inductive, statistical, probabilistic and inductive-statistical explanations.
I 156
von Wright, G. H.: The arguments of Scriven and Dray are related to my criticism of the scheme, Sriven uses the successful wording that Hempel's approach "gives the individual case away".
Scriven: an event can move freely within a network of statistical laws, but is located within the "normic network" and explained by this localization(3)(4).
I 26
Wright: the two schemes differ more than expected.
WrightVsHempel: one should not speak of an explanation for the inductive-probabilistic model, but rather of the fact that certain expectations are justified.
I 28
Wright: a test on the Covering Law approach would be to ask whether the law scheme of the explanation also covers teleological explanations.
Teleology/von Wright, G. H.: there are two sections:
a) the field of the term function, goal (purposefulness) and "organic wholeness" ("systems").
b) purposefulness and intentionality.
See also >Feedback/von Wright, G. H.


1. W. Dray: Laws and Explanation in History, 1957, p. 1.
2. C. G. Hempel: Aspects of Scientific Explanation, in: "Aspects of Scientific Explanation and other Essays in the Philosophy of Science", New York 1965.
3. M. Scriven: Truisms as the Grounds for Historical Explanation, in: P. Gardiner (Ed.), 1959, p. 467.
4. W. Dray: The Historical Explanation of Actions Reconsidered, 1963.


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Explanation of symbols: Roman numerals indicate the source, arabic numerals indicate the page number. The corresponding books are indicated on the right hand side. ((s)…): Comment by the sender of the contribution. Translations: Dictionary of Arguments
The note [Concept/Author], [Author1]Vs[Author2] or [Author]Vs[term] resp. "problem:"/"solution:", "old:"/"new:" and "thesis:" is an addition from the Dictionary of Arguments. If a German edition is specified, the page numbers refer to this edition.

Hempel I
Carl Hempel
"On the Logical Positivist’s Theory of Truth" in: Analysis 2, pp. 49-59
In
Wahrheitstheorien, Gunnar Skirbekk, Frankfurt/M. 1977

Hempel II
Carl Hempel
Problems and Changes in the Empirist Criterion of Meaning, in: Revue Internationale de Philosophie 11, 1950
German Edition:
Probleme und Modifikationen des empiristischen Sinnkriteriums
In
Philosophie der idealen Sprache, J. Sinnreich, München 1982

Hempel II (b)
Carl Hempel
The Concept of Cognitive Significance: A Reconsideration, in: Proceedings of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences 80, 1951
German Edition:
Der Begriff der kognitiven Signifikanz: eine erneute Betrachtung
In
Philosophie der idealen Sprache, J. Sinnreich, München 1982

WrightCr I
Crispin Wright
Truth and Objectivity, Cambridge 1992
German Edition:
Wahrheit und Objektivität Frankfurt 2001

WrightCr II
Crispin Wright
"Language-Mastery and Sorites Paradox"
In
Truth and Meaning, G. Evans/J. McDowell, Oxford 1976

WrightGH I
Georg Henrik von Wright
Explanation and Understanding, New York 1971
German Edition:
Erklären und Verstehen Hamburg 2008


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Ed. Martin Schulz, access date 2022-09-25
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