Discussion Questions on Railton's Deductive Nomological Model of Probabilistic Explanation"


1.  What is Railton's view of the connection between explanation and deductive subsumption?

2.  In Railton's theory of probabilistic explanation, one actually derives a value for the probability of the explanandum event occurring.   Hempel, in contrast, argues that the "probability" of the explanandum cannot be detached from the particular argument -- indeed that it is a complete confusion to take a statistical explanation of a particular event to establish the probability that the event occurs.  Do Hempel's arguments apply to Railton's proposal?

3.  Suppose we were to leave the "parenthetical addendum" out of Railton's deductive-nomological probabilistic explanations.   What then would we be able to explain?  Why, according to Railton, is it important to include the parenthetical addendum?

4.  Humphreys argues that specific probability values don't matter. What matters is only whether the factors cited make the explanandum event more probable.  Railton, in contrast, thinks that the specific probability value is very important in a fully elaborated explanation.  Who is right and why?

5.  What is Railton's argument against Hempel's high-probability requirement?