Wednesday, April 09, 2008

Review of Wesley Salmon's Four Decades of Scientific Explanation

Four Decades of Scientific Explanation Is an excellent overview of the history of scientific explanation as seen from the standpoint of one of its most significant contributors.

Since the late nineteenth century is is generally agreed that science provides explanations of the phenomena in the natural world. But exactly what does an explanation look like? What form does an explanation take? How do we recognize an explanation and distinguish it from pseudo-explanations and the like?

Salmon's history covers the discussion from Hempel to the state of the art in 1989 when the book was written. He covers all the major theories and all the major questions. The book is highly readable, and definitely a worthwhile investment for those who want to understand this corner of the philosophy of science.

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