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Difference Between Types of Explanation

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An explanation is a statement with its roots in reality and psychology; it gives a vivid picture to the person inquiring. If a young child asks why the sky is blue, he will definitely not understand a deep scientific answer. An explanation needs to be easy to understand. At the same time, an explanation must rest on truth. It should refer to reality. A good explanation is one which meets what the inquirer needs.

For example, if a priest asks a robber why he robbed a bank, and the robber said he robbed it because he wanted money, the robber did not give the priest a good explanation for him. In this inquiry, the robber is supposed to tell the priest his moral intentions/thoughts behind the robbery. The explanation that the robber gave was a scientific one. The robber’s explanation looks more towards the practical side of the argument, making it scientific. On the other hand, it ignores the moral and ethical side. There are lots of different types of explanations, but the most important two are scientific and historical.

Science is just one way of obtaining human knowledge. The three aims of science are to predict, control and explain. The biggest one is scientific explanation. Scientific explanations are just propositions. They are given to capture the best outlook on a matter. However, scientific explanations can be evaluated and modified. They are valid deductive arguments whose conclusion is the event to be explained. Scientific explanations are worked out from laws. For example, there is a law that whenever the Earth is between the Moon and Sun, an eclipse will occur. Because of that law, any single eclipse can be explained as an occurrence of that law. The law that gives that explanations gains more strength if it is shown to be a consistent rule.

Historical explanations explain events which have already taken place in the world. In more specific terms, they explain a certain occurrence in the context of history. In some cases, the explanations can give causes as well. A good method for explaining history is analyzing history in terms of power. To do this, one has to assess the power of certain entities, determining the entities’ use of their power, and accounting for their use of that power. To assess the power of certain entities, deductive theory needs to be used. Someone’s power depends on what other people can be expected to do. For determining the use of one’s power, this mostly requires basic historical accounting. To account for their use of the power, one would need to use the rational choice theory. Scientific explanations and historical explanations can be solved using perception, emotion, and reason. Just one example of differentiating between the types of explanation is the mystery of the Stonehenge. Many people have wondered where it came from, and there are numerous theories about its origin. Theories have been given not only by historians, but scientists as well. These theories, as expected, harshly contrast each other. All these theories are based on nothing but perceptions, reasons and emotions.

Someone’s perception of events is dependent on the state of mind they are in during that moment of time. It also depends on the way people are brought up in their life. A person who is given a certain set of values in their upbringing will have a different perception than someone who was brought up somewhere else with different values. There have been numerous theories that relate the existence of the Stonehenge in Britain to the existence of God and aliens. Some theories even mention that it may have something to do with wizards. However, there have also been theories which make a bit more sense, justifying the monument as a cemetery/burial ground, a laboratory, and more.

Many people think that religion might not necessarily affect historical and scientific explanations. However, this is not true. In this specific case, a person that is brought up with religious and more mythological values would be more inclined to believe in God. This would obviously lead this person to try to justify that the Stonehenge is a temple, maybe even a temple of God. On the other side, an atheist would likely not try to justify the Stonehenge this way, as atheists do not believe in God and would immediately reject the idea. This would be caused by a reason or an emotion.

A religious person can definitely measure out/create a historical explanation. Even though this is true, one of three methods of historical explanation needs to be used. Historians may believe in something by using the observations they make from certain piece of archeological evidence that is discovered. It is emotion, however, that bring out fear in someone’s heart, and this emotion can definitely alter one’s perception as well. Again, when someone is brought up religiously, the priests or higher ups in the temple that they go to would build the element of the fear of God in his heart. This fear is what leads people to believe that monuments, such as the Stonehenge, may actually be temples of God that were built by God to perform certain rituals. This is a though that would almost certainly be cast aside by either an atheist, a less-religious person, or a more person who bases his/her opinion more on practical thought. However, as a counterpoint, we must go back to the definition of an explanation. This explanation may not necessarily fulfill the question that was asked by the inquirer. Explanations are relative, and they depend on the reason and perception of the inquirer.

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