An Introduction to the Logic of the Sciences by Rom Harré (auth.)

By Rom Harré (auth.)

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However, in pre-scientific explanations in which what we seek to explain are particular happenings it is clear that both general and particular causal elements play a part. If we are looking only for causal explanations then the methods of explanation of particular happenings that we have already discussed can be developed to provide explanations of classes of happenings. In discussing simple explanations I confined the discussion to the explanation of particular happenings for it is in connection with them that our interest in explanations is first excited.

For example Voltage: vb v 2 , v3 , . . Current: ib i 2, i 3 , . . The function V =IRis built up in two steps, one is the generalizing 47 Scientific Description of the numerical results vh v2 , ••• into the variable V, and ih i2 , ... into the variable I; the other the determination of the exact relationship between them, that is the determination of the algebraic function which has numerical values varying in an analogous way with vh v2 , • . and ih i2 . • .

An explanation in detail of the dying of the fire might be 'Fires die out when their flues are blocked and this flue is blocked'. 'Seeking an explanation' can be understood on the same basis of generalization and relevant particular as 'giving an explanation'. Looking for the explanation of a happening involves both looking for a generalization under which we can include the happening in question, and then with the help of this generalization identifYing a cause. A suitable generalization is the prior requirement in seeking an explanation since the identification of any particular happening as the cause of the happening we wish to explain can only be made when the direction in which we are to look for it has thus been established.

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