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::: center home >> events >> lunchtime >> 2004-05 >> abstracts

Friday, 8 April 2005
Analogical Reasoning in the Logical Structure of Scientific Law
Dale Jacquette, Penn State University
12:05 pm, 817R Cathedral of Learning

Abstract: Efforts to formalize the logical structure of scientific law encounter a dilemma.  Universal generalizations lack explanatory force if they amount to no more than accidental generalizations, but are vacuous and thus trivially true when their antecedents describe idealized entities that do not exist in nature.  To adjoin existence assertions to universal generalizations to avoid vacuity where the idealizations described in laws fail to exist makes scientific laws false.  Problems about the modality of logically contingent scientific laws that describe nomically necessary causal connections holding between event types present another challenge for understanding the logic of natural laws.  I propose a unified logical analysis of the structure of scientific law that attaches nomic necessity to the consequents of logically contingent universal generalizations and establishes an analogy between idealizations and the existent actual states of affairs to which existential commitment is made that approximate the ideal, together with an exact method of calculating the degree of their approximation for the sake of determining the limits of a law's explanatory adequacy in a modified deductive-nomological covering-law model.

Revised 3/11/08 - Copyright 2006