Knowledge of Nature Space Time and Motion Cosmos Term Paper

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Philosophy Inherent in Science

Explanation in Science

This summary was a review of Carl G. Hempel's "Explanation In Science," which was reprinted from "Scientific Knowledge" and was edited by Janet A. Kovoany. Carl Hempel was well-known for his scientific explanation concept which has become the foundaton of many modern day philosophical discussions on the purpose and logic of science. Hempel's work was insightful and it was founded on the basis that man uses science to continually improve his current situation or 'strategic position' by either prediciting or controlling events and things around us. Hempel professed that we as a species are impelled to satisfy an inner curiosity and need to explain all that is around us and all that is unexplainable. In my researching Carl Hempel I discovered that his peers saw him as a man who was on the level of Socrates and his true genious can has been demonstrated in his work to develop the Deductive-Nomological (DN) model. Hempel studied at the prestigious Realgymnasium in Berlin, Germany and also attended the University of Gottingen. He taught at Jerusalem, Pittsburgh, Berkley, Yale and Princeton and consistently produced philosophical and scientific papers and other books. Hempel and his friend Paul Oppenheim published many books and papers. Hempel published his "Aspects of scientific explanation" in 1965. Unfortunately, Carl Hempel died in Princeton, New Jersey on November 9, 1997. (Hempel, 1998)

The first argument is that Hempel discussed two basic types of scientific explanation: Deductive and Nomological. Hempel and Oppenheim felt that a scientific explanation of a fact was considered a deduction of a statement called the explanandum which actually describes the fact that we would need to explain. They also defined a premises or explanans which are scientific laws or the initial condition of an experiment. Hempel's theory of science was that for an explanation to be acceptable, the explans must be true. This was Hempel's deductive-nomological explanation. "A good many scientific explanations can be regarded as deductive-nomological in character." (Hempel, 1965)

The second argument is that Hempel theorized that a deductive-nomological model means that an explanation of a fact can be reduced to a logical relationship between statements. In other words, 'the explanandum is a consequence of the explanans' which has become a basic tenet in the modern philosophy of logical positivism. Hempel's explanations need scientific laws or facts.

Hempel theorized that there are two types of laws. The first type is a law which is a universal constant in science such as the law of gravity. These laws are based on the fact that they have not yet been proven wrong and are universally accepted as true all of the time. The second law type would be a statistical probability or a Probabilistic explanation. This type of law can be a statistical probability that can be proven; Hempel used the concept of getting haw fever to explain this type of law. When someone has hay fever, statically it is assumed that is what it is but technically the germs could be a mixture of anything. Yet, we still consider the symptoms as hay fever. Clearly, this explanans does not deductively imply the explanandum; "John Doe's hay fever attack subsided; the truth of the explanans makes the truth of the explanandum not certain, but only more or less likely, or perhaps, practically certain." (Hempel, 1965)

In conclusion, this summary was a review of Carl G. Hempel's "Explanation In Science." Carl Hempel was a well-known scientific philosopher known for his scientific explanation concept. Hempel's work has a foundation that man uses science to continually improve his current situation or 'strategic position.' Hempel beklieved that man has an inner curiosity and this entails that we must try to explain eveything around us. Hempel's Deductive-Nomological (DN) model is his way of explaining how we use science to meet that inner need.

Understanding the Cosmos


This summary was a review of Bertrand Russell's "Understanding the Cosmos," out of "My Present View of the World." Bertrand Russell was a popular philosopher, logician, and political activist out of England. Bertrand Russell was born in 1872 and died in 1970 and was considered one of the twentieth century's most important liberal thinkers. He was an avid Idealist who converted to full time philosopher that tried to utilize and understand stress mathematics, logic, and sense related experience.

Russell became popular when he developed a theory of descriptions by which names are actually disguised descriptions. This concept is the basis for solving the puzzles of non-referring expressions and thus explains how they are possible. Russell was also known for his work with knowledge by acquaintance and knowledge by description. To know by acquaintance is to have personal knowledge, as when one knows a person. The Christian community often ridiculed his work because he was atheist who felt that religion as a whole does more harm than good for mankind.

If you want to understand the cosmos and science or what knowledge is it is good to start by becoming clear about general concepts. Russel begins his work by pointing out that we are working on an assuumption that is incorrect and he aims to fix that for us. "The view to which I have been gradually led is one which has been almost universally misunderstood an which, for this reason, I will try to state it as simply and clearly as I possilbey can." (Russell, 1959) He is refferring to the fact that mathmatics logic is often used to create and design properties out of elements which he feels is backwards."I think it is a mistake fro another reason." (Russell, 1959)

Russell contends that we need to first look to physics to get an understanding of the major universal processes from man's history. He contends that Isaac Newton worked at a time when physics was clearer. Because modern physics is not as clear as seventeenth century physics, thee is more confusion. But, even through this confusion, Russell felt that Science and its tools such as physics are far more likely to provide a good or better understanding of the cosmos and life in general than a less systematic approach.

Our world in Russell's opinion is an entirely inferred world. When we record a voice or a television show we have a copy of something yet we take it to be the real thing. "Our world is not wholly a matte of inference." (Russell, 1959) I f we see it raining we put up an umbrella and that is done without first conferring with a local scientist. Photographs and the like are visual objects that we use to belong to the part of the inferred world. What Russell is implying is that the entities that occur in mathematical physics are actually inferred and not a real part of the world. And that what we perceive is actually a part of our inferred world. And third, this is something that Russell feels is true but he does not feel it is necessary to prove it as a natural law. It is just his opinion of how the cosmos works.

Conclusion, this summary was a review of Bertrand Russell's "Understanding the Cosmos," from "My Present View of the World." Bertrand Russell was a popular philosopher who used his knowledge of the world to try to provide insights into how the cosmos works. Russell was considered one of the twentieth century's most important liberal thinkers so this line of reasoning shows his depth as a thinker. His idealistic view of the world helped him to create a viable solution for how the world works. By observation and perception we may be inferring a view of things -- for example, an instrument like a microscope, a telescope or stethoscope, or camera are really tools invented by mathematics for man's need to infer.

Seeking New Laws of Nature

This summary was a review of Richard Feynman "Seeking New Laws of Nature," from "What Does Science Tell Me About the World." Richard Feynman was well-known for his work in theoretical physics and has won the Albert Einstein Award three times as well as the Lawrence Award for achievement and was a Nobel Prize Laureate in Physics for his work with quantum electrodynamics and the deep-ploughing consequences of elementary particles. Even with this strong physics background, Feynman was also considered a great modern day philosophical mind because of his understanding of the purpose and logic of science. The work "Seeking New Laws of Nature" was a part of a verbal lecture that was so impressive that it was later transcribed and sold as a book entitled The Character of Physical Law. The basic idea of the piece is how man creates concepts that eventually become laws of nature. Feynman comes across as having fun with the piece becuase there is a great deal of wit and charm even though these are complicated concepts made to sound very fundamentally easy.

This work was a summary of the state of man's knowledge of our physical…

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