Covering-Law Thesis Essay

Submitted By similarviews22
Words: 834
Pages: 4

Kyle Santos
Philosophy of Science
10/2/12
Covering-Law Thesis of Expiation

We as humans always feel the need to know how things work the way they do. For each truth claim we need to an explanation behind it for it to be true. For example, if a person saw a balloon floating in the sky, one might ask why it floats. An answer might be it is filled with helium. Even then someone might ask why helium makes it float. The answer to that is helium is lighter than nitrogen which makes up eighty percent of the air around us, and anything lighter than nitrogen will rise; this is a law of nature. A law of nature is a statement that is true no matter where in the universe. Not all truth claims need an explanation. Some state the truth within the claim itself. Take for example someone said “all widowers no longer has a spouse.” These types of statements are referred to as analytic because they are true by definition of the words used. This is the only kind of statement that does not require am explanation. All other statements, whether true or even have the possibility of being false, require some sort of explanation. These are known as contingently true statement. The statements that back up the contingently true statement are referred to as contingent facts. A statement later be explained is known as an explanandum. The statement that later explains the explanandum is referred to as an explanans. Using my example about the floating balloon earlier, the explanandum would be “the balloon floats” and the explanans would be “the balloon is filled with helium” and “helium is lighter than air.” The explanans has to be relevant to the explanandum. If someone asked why the balloon floats and I answered birds can fly, people still wouldn’t know why the balloon floats. Even if only said that the balloon floats because it is filled with helium this still wouldn’t be an adequate answer.
Some explanans are known as initial conditions. An initial condition is just a statement, which helps come to a logical conclusion through deductive reasoning. There may be more than one initial condition for each explanandum. In the example about the floating balloon the initial conditions would be, “the balloon is filled with helium.” An initial condition is not enough to conclude that the explanandum is true or false more proof is needed. For an explanandum to be true one must come to a conclusion though deductive nomological explanation, which is just a fancy terminology for coming to a logical explanation from scientific laws. The explanandum needs the explanans stating that helium is lighter than air because this is a universal law. For any explanandum to be considered true it needs to have an explanans which is a universal law. If anything is left unexplained, someone will always ask why? Not only do initial conditions need further explanation from the laws of nature, but they themselves need an explanation as well. An example using the helium filled balloon the explanandum would be helium floats in air (nitrogen). The explanans for this would be helium is less dense than air, as well as anything less dense than air floats above it. Deductive-nomological…