Philosophy Research Archives

Volume 1, 1975

Robert W. Loftin
Pages 168-180

Some Logical Problems in Arthur Danto's Account of Explanation

In this paper we examine the theory of historical explanation presented by Arthur Danto in his book, Analytical Philosophy of History (1965). Our thesis is that Danto is mistaken in his assertion that a phenomenon can be covered by a general law only insofar as we produce a description of it which contains no uneliminable particular designations of it. It is possible to cover such particular statements with general laws provided one can bridge the logical gap between the two types of sentence with other statements which need not be redescriptions of the phenomenon but can be independently established premises for a deductive argument. We further show that some of the analogies which Danto attempts to make between deduction and narrative are mistaken because of errors in Danto's understanding of logical theory, specifically, Danto's notion that no predicate may appear in the conclusion of a deductive argument which is not antecedently contained in the premises and his claim that the same variable must be replaced by the same constants throughout an argument.

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