FOM: attitudes of core mathematicians and applied modeltheoriststoward f.o.m.

Mark Steiner marksa at
Thu Jan 27 16:12:29 EST 2000

Steve Stevenson wrote:
> Mark:
>         This is wonderful information for me. I'm in the process of
> trying to develop "guidelines" for validating these large scientific
> simulations. I'm trying to find and read the "scientific explanation"
> literature. It keeps referring to Hempel and Oppenheimer in '48 as the
> start point.

First, I believe that it was Hempel and Oppenheim, not Oppenheimer (he
had his own problems in '48).

I didn't realize that you are just looking for scientific explanation
literature, but I'd like to point out that Nagel, The Structure of
Science, which was actually published much later, was probably conceived
before Hempel and Oppenheim.  This is a case of a book that was
published 20 years too late.  It has a similar theory of scientific
explanation to Hempel's, but also discusses crucial issues like
scientific realism, teology in biology, and many other things.  Nagel is
much closer to scientific practice than Hempel is.  For example, in
discussing "realism" he really discusses the word "real" as used by
scientists, more than philosophers.  The arrival of Hempel in the United
States seems to have eclipsed Nagel as the premier American philosopher
of science.  So I would start with Nagel, not Hempel.

My own view is that in doing any kind of foundational research into
science or mathematics, we should look into what the practitioners DO,
not what they SAY they do.

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