- If scientific explanation is causal explanation, and causation is law-governed sequence, then it follows that scientific explanations require laws. However, a problem with this (i.e. the ideal gas law: PV=nRT) is that instead of making things clearer, it threatens to involve the analysis of scientific explanation in a thicket of “metaphysical” issues that several philosophers and positivists sought to avoid. Scientific explanation requires a causal explanation, which requires a law-governed explanation.
- Natural law describes but does not explain natural phenomena.
- Consider the use of D-N: Newton’s law of universal gravitation described, but did not explain, what caused gravitational attraction. Newton claimed that he invented no hypotheses but deduced them from observations produced by rationalistic positivism, which engulfed contemporary European science. Even though Newton’s law does not explainthe data, it is still scientific but offers no scientific explanation. Many scientific theories do not offer an explanation by natural law. Instead, they postulate past regularities to explain presently observed phenomena, which also, in turn, allow for predictive capabilities
- Our knowledge of cause and effect relationships, which can sometimes formulate as laws, will often guide the inferences that scientists make about what happened in the past and will influence their assessment of the plausibility of competing explanations.
read more »