• Roger D. Rosenkrantz
Part of the Synthese Library book series (SYLI, volume 115)


Explanatory theories are more or less efficient ways of recoding data; powerful models are characterized by the dramatic reduction in the number of information units required for data storage which they effect. But, in addition, good explanatory theories are simple (Chapter 5): they impose strong constraints on the possible results of experimentation, according high probability to what was observed and low probability to what was not observed. This chapter explores the conception of explanation as coding, and also the connection between the efficiency and simplicity of a model. I begin with some remarks on the earlier literature.


Scientific Explanation Explanatory Hypothesis Terminal Link Efficient Encode Individual Occurrence 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. Atneave, F.: 1954, ‘Some Informational Aspects of Visual Perception’, Psych. Rev., 61, 183–194.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Collins, A.: 1966, The Use of Statistics in Explanation’, Brit. J. Phil Sci. 17, No. 2.Google Scholar
  3. Feynman, R. et al.: 1963, The Feynman Lectures on Physics, Vol. 1, Addison-Wesley, Reading, Mass.Google Scholar
  4. Fine, T. L.: 1973, Theories of Probability, Academic Press, New York.Google Scholar
  5. Hempel, C. G.: 1965, Aspects of Scientific Explanation, The Free Press, New York.Google Scholar
  6. Kuhn, T. S.: 1962, The Structure of Scientific Revolutions, Chicago University Press, Chicago.Google Scholar
  7. Luce, R. D.: 1963, ‘Detection and Recognition’, Handbook of Mathematical Psychology, Vol. 1 (R. D. Luce, R. R. Bush, E. Galanter, eds.), Wiley, New York, Chapter 3.Google Scholar
  8. Post, H. R.: 1960, ‘Simplicity in Scientific Theories’, Brit. J. Phil. Sci. 11, 32–41.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Rosenkrantz, R.D.: 1969, ‘On Explanation’, Synthese 20, 335–370.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Scriven, M.: 1959, ‘Explanation and Prediction in Evolutionary Theory’, Science 130, 477–482 (reprinted in R. Munson (ed.), Man and Nature, Dell, N.Y.).CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Suppes, P.: 1970, A Probabilistic Theory of Causality, North-Holland, Amsterdam.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© D. Reidel Publishing Company, Dordrecht, Holland 1977

Authors and Affiliations

  • Roger D. Rosenkrantz
    • 1
  1. 1.Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State UniversityBlacksburgUSA

Personalised recommendations