chapter  2
22 Pages

What Achilles said to Hempel: Unrealistic Restrictions and the Idea of Explanation as a Matter of Form

This chapter deals with the problem of scientific explanation' by examining its origins in Hempel's thought and attempting to expose the mistaken assumptions on which the problem is based. Unfortunately, these assumptions have proved much more resilient than Hempel's now largely discredited D-N model, as they continue to underpin a significant part of philosophy and social science. Nowadays, few philosophers or social theorists would subscribe to the D-N model of scientific explanation or to logical empiricism, for that matter. Since Hempel's the function of general laws in history' and the more influential Studies in the logic of explanation' in which Hempel and Oppenheim proposed the model, there have passed more than six decades of debate, criticism and alternative theories Salmon 2006; Pitt 1988. This is the lesson the tortoise teaches Achilles and which he can teach Hempel and, by extension, philosophers and social theorists following in Hempel's footsteps.