The “the explicandum must be a logical consequence
May 20, 2019
of natural sciences’ account laid down by scientific thinking and knowledge are
not just a simple explanation of what the world around us is like but instead
it is a more of an extensive and systematic description that consists of both
empirical and non-empirical evidence of these phenomena. The Deductive
nomological; method is a scientific explanation, however, according to Hempel,
not all “description” and “explanation” are scientific explanations.
What makes the D-N model different?
The D-N includes an explicandum that is
going to explain the event that will be described, and an explicans,
explanations for the given phenomenon. In Aspects of
Scientific Explanation and other Essays in Philosophy of Science, Hempel
gave conditions for which the explicans can effectively describe the
explicandum. He maintained that “the explicandum must be a logical consequence
of the explicans”, also, “the sentences
constituting the explicans must be true” (Hempel 1965). He furthered by saying
that the explicans has to have at least one law of nature included. This law
will serve as a central premise that if it were to be removed, the explicandum wouldn’t
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Hempel based his criteria on having
a set of true propositions that correspond to facts (E statement). According to Hempel, the relationship can be stated
conditions: C1, C2,…..Cn
L1, L2, …, Ln
To show this how the
D-N model works, for example in a situation where event E represent that the leaves fell from the tree. It is possible that
the initial conditions could be that the weather was windy, it was really hot
and dry which weakens the stem and later causes the leaves to fall, change of
season and when leaves start photosynthesizing. The natural law could be the
temperature rising above 90 degrees or dropping below 0 degrees and pressure
falls below that level.
required that every scientific explanation will be covered by at least one law
of nature, and the explanation will then ‘cover’ the initial conditions and the
explained event. Hempel laid out the conditions for the natural laws for it to
be valid. He claims that the laws must have a mechanism, the truth of all
propositions to the scientific explanation must follow deductively from the
proposition in the condition, the terms must have empirical import etc. (Hempel 1965, p. 338-39). With
these laid down conditions, the demarcation between science and non-science
surfaced. Science as we know deals with empirical certainties that are free of
biased explanations and deductions, and logical truths.
The idea of a critical social theory and
scientific explanation has been a long on-going controversy that has split the
social scientist apart from natural scientist. The natural scientists claim that
the methods of natural sciences and scientific explanations, which have brought
about huge and advanced discoveries, are the only scientific explanations that
should be applied to the whole study of human affairs. The social scientists propounds
that there is a basic difference in the structure of the social sciences and
natural sciences. I support the latter.
According to Alfred Schutz and other
phenomenologists, it is emphasized that social sciences cannot remain faithful
to its subject matter and at the same time we satisfy the principles of
procedures (scientific methods/explanations) set by positive science (Pg 257).
Therefore something about the explanation methodology has to be different.
Perhaps a difference in the structure formation, or even creating a more
efficient explanation structure might eliminate the conflict of the subject
matter and the principles of scientific methods. While the D-N model separates the social
science through its scientific nature, it ignores that the social science could
possibly be capable of forming objective concepts and using different
verification methods in its assessment.
Deductive nomological method separates the
science from the non-science in the sense that we know that motives, reasons,
emotions and some subjectivity are recurring patterns seen in the social
studies, and they have been theorized to have an effect on observations and
scientific explanation. However, these patterns have been ignored and being
ignored because they are placed on an ambivalent and insufficient basis to
consistently fit the D-N model. An
adequate scientific explanation cannot always be given in principal for the
phenomena in social sciences without using motives, reasons or addressing the
issues based on its individuality. Social science unlike natural science lacks
universality and that in itself is the loose end that cannot fit in the
deductive nomological method.
no doubt that great accomplishments have been made through scientific explanations
to achieve definite answers to some of the toughest problems in the natural
sciences and also other concentrations. However it is different for social
sciences. Human affairs and social methodology are based on inter-subjectivity.
The theoretical ideals of natural sciences and scientific precision involved in
the D-N is too strong to capture the conception of social sciences or
insufficient for social formulations. The
structure and conditions that are followed in the natural science would
(including the D-N) are replicable and sometime doesn’t to need a concrete
field knowledge to guarantee its certainty. For example a diverse panel of
competent people, are provided with raw observed data collected to predict the
cause of depression, and another diverse group of competent people are given observed
data collected to measure the heat capacity of copper. Both panels are not
experts in these field but they are to follow the given data and instructions. With
these two groups, there are no superficial requirements such as high IQ scores
or high GPA (3.8 minimum) used to test their competency. They are provided with
the same background knowledge and training. My hypothesis is that because of the
structure used in the natural science world, the “copper” panel will have a
more uniform answer than the “depression” panel.
science captures the same scientific terminology/language, theories and laws,
interpretation of the data which produces uniformity than social science. The issues
in social science becomes problematic when different component of the D-N
cannot be fulfilled or doesn’t not exists in the field. Diversity, such as judgment due to
differences in introspection and constructs makes the social science world more
is not a good fit for the deductive nomological model because human behaviors
and motives cannot be categorized into one specific spectrum which is why
social sciences unlike natural science tend to be less rigid in its structure
thus separating it from the natural science. Furthermore, there are additional underlying
relations that are often unknown to the observer doing observation. The
external causation of a subject could be due to psychological states, temporal
emotions and/or even internalization of schemes unlike in natural science. Let
take a scenario of a psychological researcher. Suppose his focus and shows
interest in emotions, he may need to take into account the hormonal activities
in each subject. Not just go by a standard data or some universal hormonal
measurement. He must also simultaneously consider other impulsive actions made
by his subjects.
Since the social
science cannot work in accordance with the structure of the natural science to
give adequate scientific explanation, field such as psychology that lies in the
borderline tries to use a different method more suitable for its genre in its
explanation instead of the structure of natural sciences to explain concepts in
its field. Psychology has created a more suitable explanation structure to
lessen contradiction, linguistic phenomenon and formation in order to fit
better in the natural science world. Even with this adjustment and improvement
made by psychology, would it still be able to follow the D-N model? Using psychology as an example, let us see if
the D-N model could be utilized.
Based on the definition given by mayo
clinic, “post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is a mental health condition
that’s triggered by a terrifying event — either experiencing it or witnessing
it. Symptoms may include flashbacks, nightmares and severe anxiety, as well as
uncontrollable thoughts about the event”. The explanation given by Mayo’s clinic for post-traumatic
stress disorder according to the D-N is not a scientific explanation. It is
very vague without a solid scientific structure. If at all it has one, then it is
not a solid one. The problem here with both Hempel’s D-N criteria and PTSD/most
psychological disorders is that according to the model of explanation, there is
no way you can escape the subjective aspect of individualistic cases.
According to Hempel, “what scientific explanation especially theoretical
explanation aims is not an intuitive and
subjective kind of understanding but an objective kind of insight that is
achieved by a systematic unification, by exhibiting the phenomena as
manifestable, basic principles” (Hempel 1966, pg. 83).
explanations and predictions are actually the same and the only difference is
in respect to when the particular explicandum occurs. (Sec 5.2) Then if that
was the case, it can be said that if the DN is an account of scientific
explanation, therefore anything that can be explained can be equally predicted.
That is the part where some issues come in. What about the situations whereby explanations
are scientifically acceptable but do not have natural laws to back them up or
explain them? Hempel will say, “Then they are not scientifically acceptable or
explained.” The same goes for PTSD and the unknown laws.
data and criteria for diagnosing PTSD is not accurate or better still complete
according to Hempel’s scientific explanation. It is also missing fundamental
principles that necessitate the conditions for “scientific explanation” such
as; an explanation that contains at least one proposition expressing a general
of nature, it also says that the explanandum should not follow from the non-lawful
proposition of the condition alone. The biggest one I think that the PTSD
explanation is missing is that “the law as given in the scientific explanation
should not only be true but also in fact is/are law(s) of nature according to
our best science. Mayo’s clinic explanations
for PTSD satisfy the deductive aspect of Hepel’s criteria but are weak and did
not necessarily satisfy the nomological part.
The data for diagnosing PTSD and most
psychological disorder does not have background laws that give it the full
“scientific explanation.” There is no law for PTSD just assumptions based on
subjectivity and inter-subjectivity. The methodology of the diagnostic process
is weak which somewhat depended on the subjectivity of the psychologist or
medical professional doing the diagnosis. These bring about the question if
natural science criteria can be applied to all aspects of psychology or if some
of the areas in psychology are just plain pseudoscience.
Main symptoms of
PTSD like intrusive memory, avoidance, change in emotional reactions can be
well justified by research, brain chemistry and other subjective observation
but other symptoms and causes are no based on fundamental natural laws that would
make PTSD scientifically acceptable to Hempel. These methods will not give
profound result in all cases which jeopardizes the prediction clause of
Hempel’s criteria. There are certain correlations but it is not proven to be