World Library  
Flag as Inappropriate
Email this Article

Explanans

Article Id: WHEBN0014892232
Reproduction Date:

Title: Explanans  
Author: World Heritage Encyclopedia
Language: English
Subject: Explanation
Collection:
Publisher: World Heritage Encyclopedia
Publication
Date:
 

Explanans

An explanandum (a Latin term) is a phenomenon that needs to be explained and its explanans is the explanation of that phenomenon. For example, one person may pose an explanandum by asking "Why is there smoke?", and another may provide an explanans by responding "Because there is a fire". In this example, "smoke" is the explanandum, and "fire" is the explanans.

In scientific method

Carl Gustav Hempel and Paul Oppenheim (1948),[1] in their deductive-nomological model of scientific explanation, motivated the distinction between explanans and explanandum in order to answer why-questions, rather than simply what-questions:

"the event under discussion is explained by subsuming it under general laws, i.e., by showing that it occurred in accordance with those laws, by virtue of the realization of certain specified antecedent conditions"

— Hempel & Oppenheim, 1948, (p.152)[1]

Specifically, they define the concepts as follows:

"By the explanandum, we understand the sentence describing the phenomenon to be explained (not that phenomenon itself); by the explanans, the class of those sentences which are adduced to account for the phenomenon"

— Hempel & Oppenheim, 1948, (p.152)[1]

The crucial comment, with respect to the scientific method, is given as follows:

"It may be said... that an explanation is not fully adequate unless its explanans, if taken account of in time, could have served as a basis for predicting the phenomenon under consideration.... It is this potential predictive force which gives scientific explanation its importance: Only to the extent that we are able to explain empirical facts can we attain the major objective of scientific research, namely not merely to record the phenomena of our experience, but to learn from them, by basing upon them theoretical generalizations which enable us to anticipate new occurrences and to control, at least to some extent, the changes in our environment"

— Hempel & Oppenheim, 1948, (p.154)[1]

Other examples

  • Constitutum that which gets made up, constituted, e.g. a legal constitution. Constituens that which makes it up, e.g. the constituents who are authorized to make a constitution.
  • Definiendum that which is being defined. Definiens that which constitutes a definition.
  • Explicandum that which gets explicated. Explicans that which gives the explication.

References

This article was sourced from Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License; additional terms may apply. World Heritage Encyclopedia content is assembled from numerous content providers, Open Access Publishing, and in compliance with The Fair Access to Science and Technology Research Act (FASTR), Wikimedia Foundation, Inc., Public Library of Science, The Encyclopedia of Life, Open Book Publishers (OBP), PubMed, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Center for Biotechnology Information, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health (NIH), U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, and USA.gov, which sources content from all federal, state, local, tribal, and territorial government publication portals (.gov, .mil, .edu). Funding for USA.gov and content contributors is made possible from the U.S. Congress, E-Government Act of 2002.
 
Crowd sourced content that is contributed to World Heritage Encyclopedia is peer reviewed and edited by our editorial staff to ensure quality scholarly research articles.
 
By using this site, you agree to the Terms of Use and Privacy Policy. World Heritage Encyclopedia™ is a registered trademark of the World Public Library Association, a non-profit organization.
 


Copyright © World Library Foundation. All rights reserved. eBooks from Project Gutenberg are sponsored by the World Library Foundation,
a 501c(4) Member's Support Non-Profit Organization, and is NOT affiliated with any governmental agency or department.