Dispositional Explanation and the Covering-Law Model: Response to Laird Addis
The following considerations are offered in response to the critical observations and constructive proposals set forth by Laird Addis, in his paper ‘On Defending the Covering-Law “Model”’, concerning my explications of “rational” and dispositional explanation and concerning the claims associated with the covering-law model of explanation.
KeywordsDispositional Property Statistical Explanation True Sentence Definitional Truth Criterion Sentence
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- 1.For fuller details, see C. G. Hempel, Aspects of Scientific Explanation and Other Essays in the Philosophy of Science (Free Press, New York, 1965), pp. 469-472.Google Scholar
- 2.See G. Ryle, The Concept of Mind (Hutchinson’s University Library, London, 1949), pp. 88-90; note Ryle’s remark “The imputation of a motive for a particular action is… the subsumption of an episode proposition under a law-like proposition.” (p. 90) The character of dispositional explanations and of law-like sentences is discussed in some detail in Hempel, op. cit., pp. 457-463.Google Scholar
- 3.These considerations are closely akin to ideas developed by Quine-for example, in “Carnap and Logical Truth”, in P. A. Schilpp (ed.), The Philosophy of Rudolf Carnap (Open Court, La Salle, Illinois, 1963), pp. 385-406.Google Scholar
- 4.This characterization is used by Ryle, who then goes on to stress that there are “many dispositions the actualisations of which can take a wide and perhaps unlimited variety of shapes” (op. cit., pp. 43-44).Google Scholar
- 5.The issue is examined more fully in Hempel, op. cit., pp. 472-477.Google Scholar
- 6.See A. Pap, Analytische Erkenntnistheorie (Wien, Springer, 1955), pp. 140-142 (reference to Kaila on p. 141), and the amplified discussion in A. Pap, An Introduction to the Philosophy of Science (Free Press, New York, 1962), pp. 278-284.Google Scholar
- 7.R. Carnap, “Testability and Meaning”, Philosophy of Science 3 (1936), pp. 419-471 and 4 (1937), pp. 1-40, see pp. 439-441.Google Scholar
- 8.Cf. N. Goodman, Fact, Fiction, and Forecast (2nd edition, The Bobbs-Merrill Company, Indianapolis, 1965), p. 41.Google Scholar
- 9.Pap, An Introduction to the Philosophy of Science, pp. 281-282. Pap’s analysis also differs from Kaila’s and Addis’s by invoking causal implication where the other two authors rely on the material conditional.Google Scholar
- 10.A series of illuminating and suggestive observations on the issues touched upon in this section will be found on pp. 4-15 of W. V. Quine, The Roots of Reference (Open Court, La Salle, Illinois, 1974).Google Scholar