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Title: Explanandum  
Author: World Heritage Encyclopedia
Language: English
Subject: Social anthropology, Phenomena, Hypothetico-deductive model, Michèle Lamont, Universal grammar
Publisher: World Heritage Encyclopedia


An explanandum (a Latin term) is a phenomenon that needs to be explained and its explanans is the explanation of that phenomenon. For example, one person may pose an explanandum by asking "Why is there smoke?", and another may provide an explanans by responding "Because there is a fire". In this example, "smoke" is the explanandum, and "fire" is the explanans.

In scientific method

Carl Gustav Hempel and Paul Oppenheim (1948),[1] in their deductive-nomological model of scientific explanation, motivated the distinction between explanans and explanandum in order to answer why-questions, rather than simply what-questions:

Specifically, they define the concepts as follows:

The crucial comment, with respect to the scientific method, is given as follows:

Other examples

  • Constitutum — that which gets made up, constituted, e.g. a legal constitution. Constituens — that which makes it up, e.g. the constituents who are authorized to make a constitution.
  • Definiendum — that which is being defined. Definiens — that which constitutes a definition.
  • Explicandum — that which gets explicated. Explicans — that which gives the explication.


  1. ^ a b c d Hempel CG, Oppenheim P (1948). "Studies in the Logic of Explanation". Philosophy of Science XV: 135–175.  
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