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John Dewey’s Conception of Scientific Explanation: Moving Philosophers of Science Past the Realism-Antirealism Debate

John Dewey’s Conception of Scientific Explanation: Moving Philosophers of Science Past the... Contemporary Pragmatism Vol. 8, No. 2 (December 2011), 187­203 Editions Rodopi © 2011 John Dewey provided a robust and thorough conception of scientific explanation within his philosophical writing. I provide an exegesis of Dewey's concept of scientific explanation and argue that this concept is important to contemporary philosophy of science for at least two reasons. First, Dewey's conception of scientific explanation avoids the reification of science as an entity separated from practical experience. Second, Dewey supplants the realist-antirealist debate within the philosophical literature concerning explanation, thus moving us beyond the current stalemate within philosophy of science. Nature retains her veil, despite our clamors: That which she doth not willingly display Cannot be wrenched from her with levers, screws, and hammers. ­ Goethe 1808/1964, Faust I 1. In his essay, "Aspects of Scientific Explanation," Carl Hempel begins his argument for the deductive-nomological theory of explanation with an example about soap bubbles from John Dewey's book How We Think (Hempel 1965, 335­336; Dewey MW 6, 235­238).1 Later in the essay, Hempel draws on another example utilized by Dewey: explaining the rising of water by using a pump (Hempel, 364­365; Dewey LW 8, 272). Despite explicitly drawing upon Dewey for at http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png Contemporary Pragmatism Brill

John Dewey’s Conception of Scientific Explanation: Moving Philosophers of Science Past the Realism-Antirealism Debate

Contemporary Pragmatism , Volume 8 (2): 187 – Apr 21, 2011

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Publisher
Brill
Copyright
© Copyright 2011 by Koninklijke Brill NV, Leiden, The Netherlands
ISSN
1572-3429
eISSN
1875-8185
DOI
10.1163/18758185-90000209
Publisher site
See Article on Publisher Site

Abstract

Contemporary Pragmatism Vol. 8, No. 2 (December 2011), 187­203 Editions Rodopi © 2011 John Dewey provided a robust and thorough conception of scientific explanation within his philosophical writing. I provide an exegesis of Dewey's concept of scientific explanation and argue that this concept is important to contemporary philosophy of science for at least two reasons. First, Dewey's conception of scientific explanation avoids the reification of science as an entity separated from practical experience. Second, Dewey supplants the realist-antirealist debate within the philosophical literature concerning explanation, thus moving us beyond the current stalemate within philosophy of science. Nature retains her veil, despite our clamors: That which she doth not willingly display Cannot be wrenched from her with levers, screws, and hammers. ­ Goethe 1808/1964, Faust I 1. In his essay, "Aspects of Scientific Explanation," Carl Hempel begins his argument for the deductive-nomological theory of explanation with an example about soap bubbles from John Dewey's book How We Think (Hempel 1965, 335­336; Dewey MW 6, 235­238).1 Later in the essay, Hempel draws on another example utilized by Dewey: explaining the rising of water by using a pump (Hempel, 364­365; Dewey LW 8, 272). Despite explicitly drawing upon Dewey for at

Journal

Contemporary PragmatismBrill

Published: Apr 21, 2011

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