Adaptive logic and covering law explanations

Erik Weber, Maarten Van Dyck


In his theory of explanation Hempel introduced two basic types of covering law explanations for particular events: deductive-nomological and inductive-statistical. In this article we argue that there is more than one reason why adaptive logics provide the right tools for analyzing the argument patterns involved in these covering law explanations. To this end we claim that in the case of inconsistent knowledge systems, neither classical logic, nor a paraconsistent logic suffice to capture the right class of permissible arguments that can make up a deductive-nomological explanation, whereas an adaptive logic gives just the right results. The arguments behind inductive-statistical explanations face the well-known problem of inductive ambiguities, which Hempel tried to solve with his requirement of maximal specificity. We show how this requirement can be nicely incorporated in a logic for these arguments, again using an adaptive logic (which we describe in some detail).

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