Essays /

Not Done Yet Essay

Essay preview

ABSTRACT: Given the great historical distance between scientific explanation as Aristotle and Hempel saw it, I examine and appraise important similarities and differences between the two approaches, especially the inclination to take deduction itself as the very model of scientific knowledge. I argue that we have good reasons to reject this inclination.

In his recent studies showing Galileo's knowledge of and adherence to the deductive standards of explanation in science set forth by Aristotle, Wallace (1) remarks that this Aristotelean theory must not be confused with the contemporary deductive-nomological theory of Hempel and Oppenheim. (2) There are, of course, important differences between the classic works of Aristotle and Hempel, for twenty-three centuries lie between them. But the differences are not as great as might be expected, and, as current discussions of the metatheoretical issues of explanation are generally ahistorical, I believe an attempt to compare these two intellectual mileposts in our understanding of scientific method should prove useful.

The most obvious and interesting similarities between the two metatheories of science lie in their deductive character, and this is where their significant contrasts lie as well. Aristotle had developed two major deductive systems: the hypothetical and categorical syllogisms. Of these, he thought only the latter suitable to the demanding rigors of scientific knowledge, whose first characteristics he saw to be 'certainty' and 'necessity'. (3) There are some problematic elements in just what Aristotle took these concepts to mean, but I postpone discussion of that to a later stage.

The categorical syllogism, preferably in the familiar "Barbara" of the first figure of the first mood, Aristotle sees to be the ideal supplier of both the certainty and the necessity, with the scientific conclusio...

Read more


1 2 3 4 5 abstract abyss accident act adher adopt ahistor alik alreadi also alway ancient anoth answer anyon apprais approach argu argument aristotelean aristotl aristotlean arriv asid ask aspect associ assumpt astronom astronomi attempt attent attest attract avail back barbara base basi belief believ beyond bidirect block bottomless break bring calculus cannot capac case categor causal centuri certain certainti charact characterist chief circl classic clear close coincid common compar complet complex concept conclus condit confid conflat confront confus connect conserv consid consider consist contemporari contradictori contrast controversi could cours critic current dark day decept deduc deduct deductive-nomolog deepli defend defin demand describ determin develop differ difficult difficulti diminish direct discuss distanc distinct distinguish done doubtless earlier earth eclips either eleat eleg element enlighten enough ensur especi establish even event everyday evid examin exampl except expect explan explanatori explic explicit express extent fact factor fail familiar far figur find first first-ord follow forc form formal format former forth found fulli function galilean galilean-humean galileo general given go goe good great greater ground ground-break heart hegelian held hempel hempelean henc hindsight histor hope howev human hume humean hypothet ideal identif imagin import inasmuch inclin includ indubit ine inform inher insist instanc intellectu intent interest intuit investig issu joy kind knowledg languag later latter law least leav led leibniz let lie life light like logic look lunar major make mani manner mark matter may mbodi mean meant memori metaphys metatheoret metatheori method methodolog might milepost model mood moon much must name name-distinguish narrow natur necess necessari necessarili need negat neither never nevertheless nomolog noninferenti nonsyllogist number observ obvious occas one oper oppenheim oppenheim-even order origin otherwis overwhelm part particular path pattern pay percept persist philosoph physic place plain planetari platon play point portray posit possess possibl postpon power predic predict prefer premis prescrib press problemat process produc properti proposit prove provid purpos pursu pythagorean quick rang reach realli reappear reason rebuild recent recogn regress reiter reject remain remark remind repeat repli requir respons retrodict return reveal reviv rigor rout rule satisfi saw say scienc scientif scope second see seek seem seen self self-contradictori sens set share show side signific similar sinc soldier someth sort sought sourc special specif spite stage stand stand-off standard strengthen studi subject subset succeed success suggest suitabl sun superfici supplier syllog system take task techniqu tell term test theori thing though thought three thus time togeth took tool track tradit true truth truth-conserv turn twenti twenty-thre two understand unexplain univers urg us use valid variabl various vicious view wallac way well whether whose wide wisdom without work world would write wrote year yet yield