The Nature of Scientific Explanation

The Nature of Scientific Explanation

JUDE P. DOUGHERTY
Copyright Date: 2013
Pages: 312
https://www.jstor.org/stable/j.ctt3fgpcz
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  • Book Info
    The Nature of Scientific Explanation
    Book Description:

    In his newest work, distinguished philosopher Jude P. Dougherty challenges contemporary empiricisms and other accounts of science that reduce it to description and prediction.

    eISBN: 978-0-8132-2022-2
    Subjects: General Science

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. PREFACE
    (pp. ix-xviii)
  4. PART ONE AN ARISTOTELIAN PERSPECTIVE

    • LECTURE ONE HISTORICAL CONTEXT: WHAT IS AT STAKE
      (pp. 3-15)

      The necessity of providing an adequate interpretation of natural science is a task inherited from the eighteenth century, wherein John Locke and David Hume challenged the notions of substance and causality and thereby undermined a classical understanding of science. The awakened Kant accepted Hume’s psychological account of causality and went on to ask how science is possible, whereas metaphysics is not. The emphasis Kant placed on the categories as mental structures whose function consisted mainly in organizing data received by the senses had a profound effect on the common understanding of science. Karl Popper’s questioning the value of induction may...

    • LECTURE TWO INDUCTION: THE PERENNIAL VALUE OF THE ARISTOTELIAN PERSPECTIVE
      (pp. 16-28)

      A well-thumbed Logic in use through most of the twentieth century is that of H. W. B. Joseph. First published in 1906 at 608 pages, it became the prototype of many a logic textbook written for classroom use. Joseph opens a chapter devoted to the problem of induction with the observation, “The history of the word Induction is still to be written, but it is certain that it has shifted its meaning in the course of time and that much misunderstanding has arisen thereby.”¹ Volumes have been written in the last hundred years, but the conflict between the empiricist and...

  5. PART TWO BASIC PRINCIPLES

    • LECTURE THREE THE PRINCIPLE OF SUBSTANCE
      (pp. 31-44)

      The thesis to be advanced in this lecture is that Aristotle’s doctrine of substance is as relevant today as it was when it was first propounded. It must be acknowledged at the outset that ideas have a life of their own, and this is no less true of certain key Aristotelian notions. Aristotle becomes more sophisticated in the commentaries of the Scholastics and still more sophisticated in the twentieth century. Indeed, some of the best contemporary work in philosophy is nothing other than the creative appropriation of the classical past and its medieval commentators. The ancients no less than we...

    • LECTURE FOUR POTENTIALITY UNCOVERED
      (pp. 45-54)

      The ability to deal with the concept of potentiality is a major test for any philosophy of science. Few will deny that capacities, dispositions, propensities, or tendencies are real. It is how these are to be understood that divides philosophers into camps. Whitehead’s use of the term “potentiality” and its correlative “actuality” is different from that of Aristotle. Locke’s “constellation of events” metaphysics differs from Nicholas Rescher’s conceptual idealism. How one answers the question, “In what sense are potentialities real?” is indicative of one’s metaphysical outlook. An answer not only divides idealist from realist, but metaphysician from logician. There is...

    • LECTURE FIVE THE PRINCIPLE OF FINAL CAUSALITY
      (pp. 55-66)

      In Physics II.3 and Metaphysics V.2, Aristotle offers his general account of the four causes. At the risk of oversimplification, Aristotle’s doctrine of four causes may be regarded as little more than an elaboration of our common-sense conviction that change stands in need of explanation, or expressed in metaphysical terms, the conviction that not only being but being in act is intelligible.

      The material cause is that out of which a thing is made; the formal cause is its determining principle—that which makes the thing to be what it is. The material and formal causes are intrinsic and constitute...

  6. PART THREE CULTURAL CONSIDERATIONS

    • LECTURE SIX USE AND ABUSE OF ANALOGY AND METAPHOR IN SCIENTIFIC EXPLANATION
      (pp. 69-78)

      Aristotle observed that even the most abstract of thought is necessarily accompanied by a sensory image. This notion came to be expressed by the Scholastic dictum, “There can be no intellection without accompanying sensation.” The function of images in scientific explanation will be addressed, but the immediate focus of this lecture is the use of metaphor in communicating insight into natural phenomena. Models employed in the sciences are a kind of metaphor in which a familiar structure or mechanism is used as an analogy to interpret natural phenomena.

      Historians of science tell us that scientific models are often suggestive in...

    • LECTURE SEVEN SCIENCE AND THE SHAPING OF MODERNITY: THE RECIPROCAL INFLUENCE OF SCIENCE AND CULTURE
      (pp. 79-100)

      Cultural historians necessarily deal in broad generalizations. Whatever is affirmed of a period, a people, or a nation, no matter how well grounded by factual study and reflection, is subject to qualification. Exceptions to broad characterizations may always be found without mitigating the value of the broader insight. We grasp something when an author refers to the Greeks, to Roman civilization, to the Hellenic period, to Christendom, to the Benedictines, to the Renaissance, or to the Enlightenment. These designations, all generalizations formed by an examination of a host of particulars, indeed refer to something intelligible, something quite apart from the...

  7. EPILOGUE
    (pp. 101-112)

    These lectures, apart from their focus on the nature of scientific explanation, have shown through the use of history that science has a cultural dimension, both in its creation and in its use. Modern science is distinctly European and could have arisen only within a distinctive intellectual tradition centuries in the making. As to its cultural impact, many of the names we associate with the history of science were not oblivious to the social implications of the philosophy that ruled the day. F. A. Hayek saw this clearly when he wrote The Road to Serfdom.¹ Known primarily as an economist,...

  8. BIBLIOGRAPHY
    (pp. 113-118)
  9. INDEX
    (pp. 119-122)
  10. Back Matter
    (pp. 123-123)