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Karl Popper and the Method of Causal Explanation in Historical Sciences

Jiří Stránský

E-LOGOS, 2020, vol. 2020, issue 1, 30-37

Abstract: The aim of this paper is to describe the method of causal explanation (or so-called “Covering Law Model”) as it was developed by Karl Popper with special regard to its application in historical sciences. For this reason, the subsequent exposition takes into account also the views of Carl Gustav Hempel who was the first one to transfer this method to the field of historical sciences. It is argued that this transfer is a particular demonstration of (predominantly a Neo-positivistic) tendency to formulate a general scientific method and, therefore, an attempt to put historiography into the same category as other sciences. It is also claimed that despite this general tendency, authors like Popper or Hempel probably realize, but do not stress explicitly, that the laws that are used in historical explanations are not of the same kind and do not have the same scientific quality as laws used so-called “hard” sciences like physics for example. The paper is concluded by a brief examination of Popper’s own application of this method in his historical research.

Keywords: Popper; Hempel; causal explanation; historical sciences; covering law model (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2020
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DOI: 10.18267/j.e-logos.469

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