# Covering Law Explanation

The logical-empiricist account of explanation. The explanandum, or the high probability of the explanandum, must be validly deduced from premises including at least one law of nature.Two basic types: Deductive-Nomological and Inductive-Statistical.

### Deductive-Nomological

A model for the explanation of deterministic events. The explanandum (thing to be explained) must be the conclusion of an argument, the premises of which must essentially include a law of nature.#### Literature

First presented in Hempel and Oppenheim 1948 'Studies in the Logic of Explanation'.Main important development in Hempel 1965b 'Aspects of Scientific Explanation'.

### Inductive-Statistical

A model for the explanation of indeterministic events. The argument, which must involve a law of nature as an essential premise, must lead to the conclusion that the explanandum was extremely likely.#### Literature

First presented in Hempel 1965b 'Aspects of Scientific Explanation'.### Objections

There is a good summary of all the main objections and objectors in Salmon 1990*Four Decades of Scientific Explanation*, chapters 1-3.

## Issues

### Structural Identity Thesis

The claim that explanations and predictions have the same structure: an explanation is a prediction made after the fact.#### Literature

Stated in Hempel 1965b, pp364-76 and 406-10.Criticised in Scheffler 1981 *The
Anatomy of Inquiry*, chapter 1, sections 1-5, and Scriven 1962
'Explanations, Predictions, and Laws'.

### Relevance Problems

It is often possible to deduce a fact from facts that do not seem to explain it. How can Hempel's model cope with this?#### Literature

Hempel's approach to the problem is found in Hempel 1964 'Postscript (1964) to*Studies in the Logic of Explanation*' and Hempel 1965b, section 2.1.

Many of the problems are raised in Salmon 1990, section 2.3.

### Functional Explanation

Can Covering Law models handle explanations that invoke purposes?#### Literature

Hempel 1959 'The Logic of Functional Analysis' is the first discussion of these issues.It is developed further in Cohen 1978 'Functional Explanation: In General'.

### Probabilistic Explanation

The Inductive-Statistical model deals with this, but has been found unsatisfactory in some respects.#### Literature

Coffa 1974 is one of the first criticisms of the IS model in particular.Railton 1978 and Railton 1981 present a Deductive-Nomological account of probabilistic explanation.