The Nature of Scientific Explanation
Publication Year: 2013
Published by: The Catholic University of America Press
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Title Page, Copyright, Dedication
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This volume is based on a set of lectures delivered at the Charles University, Prague, in 1991, lectures subsequently expanded and delivered on several university campuses or before philosophical associations. I do not claim that any part of this book is especially profound or original. ...
Part One. An Aristotelian Perspective
Lecture One. Historical Context: What is at Stake
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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. ...
Lecture Two. Induction: The Perennial Value of the Aristotelian Perspective
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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 ...
Part Two. Basic Principles
Lecture Three. The Principle of Substance
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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. ...
Lecture Four. Potentiality Uncovered
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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. ...
Lecture Five. The Principle of Final Causality
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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. ...
Part Three. Cultural Considerations
Lecture Six. Use and Abuse of Analogy and Metaphor in Scientific Explanation
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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.” ...
Lecture Seven. Science and the Shaping of Modernity: The Reciprocal Influence of Science and Culture
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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. ...
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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. ...
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Page Count: 312
Publication Year: 2013