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Causation Final7

Causation Final7

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Published by: Diana on Dec 03, 2011
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Diana Ciuca 1

- 1st Attempt at Level 3 - 7th attempt overall - Rewrite of 2nd attempt at Level

In Philosophy of Science: A Short Introduction, Samir Okasha argues against Carl Hempel’s covering law model. Okasha proposes that causality-based explanations are more accurate at giving accounts of phenomena through explanation. Scientific explanations answer ‘explanation-seeking why’ questions by using explanans (what is explaining) to explain an explanandum (what is being explained). Hempel’s model depicts explanation as the construction of a conclusion from a premise that tells us why a phenomena is true. In accord with his model, the premises must all be true, they must entail the conclusion, and one premise must be a general law. Therefore, explanation follows deductively from a law assumed to be true--a universal generalization. For instance, Newton concludes that planets move in ellipses around the sun deductively from his law of universal gravitation along with some supplementary true assumptions, fitting Hempel’s model. Therefore, Hempel’s model characterizes the nature of scientific explanation with pretty good accuracy, with two exceptions. Okasha’s prime argument is that in scientific explanation, what is being explained should be relevant to the premises explaining it. He illustrates this with the example of John and birth control. John is a man who is taking birth control and is not pregnant. We can deduce using Hempel’s model why John is not pregnant (Premise 1: John takes birth control; Premise 2: Birth control is effective in preventing pregnancy; Conclusion: John is preventing himself from getting pregnant due to his birth control use). However, this explanation overlooks that his genetic makeup is the more relevant answer for why he is not pregnant. In these situations, the explanation for “what” occurs is not the correct explanation for why it occurs. Hempel’s model gives us an inaccurate scientific explanation for a phenomenon which would be better explained by causation.

They used previously acquired . A causal-based explanation of a phenomenon is the same as giving a cause (or causality-based account) for the incident. Recall Newton’s theory of elliptical orbit: the movement of planets was caused by an attraction between planets and the sun. it does not use inference to the best explanation (a form of induction) which. I will argue against his first premise by exemplifying a good scientific explanation in which the explanans are not relevant to the explanadum. For an explanan to be relevant. Watson and Crick’s discovery of the structiure of DNA was not acquired by the scientific method and therefore was not inductively arrived at. ○ C: Hempel’s covering law model is not correct. Using causation to define how Newton explained elliptical orbits links separate phenomena through induction more cohesively than deduction through Hempel’s model achieves. The main method of giving causes to events is by observing how one phenomenon affects another. as illustrated by the scientific method. His law of universal gravity explains ellipses and shows that gravitational attraction causes them. most importantly relevancy. gives a relevant explanation for something. when testing hypothesis assume causal links between independent and dependent variables.Since Hempel’s model uses deduction to arrive at a conclusion. Thus. This method assumes causal links to prove or disprove a hypothesis based on observable evidence. Empirical evidence can be used to explain a phenomena. ○ P2: If Hempel’s model is correct then there are good scientific explanations where the explanans are not relevant to the explanandum. by definition. the explanans must be relevant to the explanandum. Scientists. he propagates the alternative theory of causation which better accounts for the gaps in Hempel’s model. Since looking for the cause of something tends to give a relevant explanan to an explanandum. causal accounts attempts to make links between events by cause and effect. it must be directly pertinent to the explanandum as seen in causation. Okasha’s argument takes the form: ○ P1: In a good scientific explanation. causal-based accounts are by definition relevant.

However. . Given that Watson and Crick’s explanandum of how DNA is structured is a good scientific explanation that was not arrived at by relevant explanans.evidence that hinted at how adenine and thymine bond as well as cytosine and guanine. then Okasha’s premise is false and his conclusion is not entailed by the argument. yet they help explain how the structure is formed. these are not necessarily relevant explanans for the structure.

" Philosophy of Science: A Very Short Introduction. Print. "Explanation in Science. . 46-52. Samir.Works Cited Okasha. Oxford: Oxford UP. 2002.

Since causal links tend to be empirically induced. whereas utilizing only causation would lead to a false induction if no general laws are invoked. leading him to believe that it is due to the characteristics of the water (most notably. Based on his empirical observations. The salt slowly dissolves as he predicted: purple water must cause salt to melt. because he has no reason to believe otherwise. Hempel’s model is capable of producing both a relevant and accurate response.Causation. that is because he appealed to a general law in justifying his explanation instead of using only empirical evidence to assume a causal link. unlike Hempel’s model. if we applied a general law to this situation and structured the scientist’s hypothesis to fit Hempel’s model. However. . a scientist hypothesizes that salt melts in water because it is dyed purple. Regardless that salt melts in any type of water. the hypothesis may still prove false. it would provide for a more accurate description of what actually occurs. He pours salt into water dyed purple. the scientist does not limit himself to only working with purple water. causation does not need to appeal to any general law to be a legitimate scientific explanation. which is why his assertion is myopic. what he observes is causally linked and he can induce that his conclusion is true since the salt melts. observable theories may give incomplete causes although relevant ones. his hypothesis will hold true. ● Law: Salt melts in water because ● Premise: Salt will be added to purple water ● Conclusion: Salt will melt in purple water Granted. However. color) that salt melts. Although the scientific method uses induction to assume casual links and confirm a hypothesis. The scientist’s explanation is relevant because it addresses the properties of salt melting by addressing the nature of the water. For example. but it is limited in scope. Therefore.

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