- The explanans involves a universal scientific law. Not only do explanations extend far beyond science, but it's unlikely that any scientific law is universal. It is better to say that explanations include a "substantive generalization," what Toulmin called a "warrant," where "substantive" means it is generally true. It is precisely the truth or falsity of the explanatory generalizations that is obscured by limiting them to universals.
- Explanation is a matter of making the explanandum rationally acceptable. With an explanation we already know the explanandum is true, so there's no need to justify or prove it. With a plausible explanation the explanans and explanandum are logically consistent, nothing more.
- The logical consistency of an explanation is a matter of deduction. The premises of a deduction, 'if x then y' and 'x', are actually equivalent to the conjunction, 'x and y'. It is this conjunction of the explanans and the explanandum (all of them being true) that creates a plausible explanation. Thus, narratives, absent any generalizations, can constitute explanations on the same logical ground as deductions using generalizations.
Monday, September 1, 2014
Basing explanation on deduction, or "covering laws," within the context of formal logical is misleading in several ways.