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Unformatted text preview: CLASSES #5: EXPLANATION I. What does it mean to explain? A. Explanation – Dictionary Definitions 1. to give the reason for or cause of 2. to show the logical development or relationships of intransitive senses : to make something 3. That which produces understanding how or why something is as it is. B. Most people think of explanation in terms of causation – C. To explain phenomena in terms of factors D. To answer the question II. Nature of cause is one of the perennial problems of philosophy. A. In the 20 th century, of particular concern were theories that posited the existence of unobservable entities and processes (e.g., atoms, fields, etc.) B. Dilemma – empiricists reject unobservables as a matter of principle but theories based upon them were producing revolutionary results. C. Primary Goal of Political Science – Causal Explanation 1. Assumptions a. Things happen in a regular way b. Question: If things happened this way once, they will happen this way again if the process if repeated? c. There are cause and effect relationships 2. Cause – In modern philosophy (as in modern usage in general) the notion of cause is associated with the idea of something's producing or bringing about something else (its effect) 3. Out of the many possible “causes”, it is our task to locate the one that is “best” a. What is best, is best in b. Paradigm tells us which types of explanations to pursue c. Paradigm provides us with concepts to us III. Philosophy of science came to distinguish between: A. Literal B. Power C. Two interpretations 1. Realist a. Correspondence of language with external world b. A theory that is gives insight into the causal structure of the world 2. Epistemic a. Power to order our experience b. A true and explanatory theory orders our experience c. A theory can have an epistemic value without accepting its truth...
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This note was uploaded on 04/21/2008 for the course PLS 200 taught by Professor Idk during the Fall '08 term at Michigan State University.
- Fall '08