Thursday, October 1, 2009

Monograph # 10 Carl Gustav Hempel

Industrial Revolution

Alvin Toffler tries to explain how human society and civilization has been developing by suggesting three waves- First (Agricultural), Second (Industrial) and Third (Digital) wave. A new wave changes existing stream of civilization and emerges usually in the form of revolution. Based on his idea I would say that it is quite important for us to study about those three waves which made a great impact on human history.

What I would like to discuss in this paper is the Second wave, the industrialization, which brought great change to societies and civilizations in the world by overthrowing agriculture-based system. With Hempel’s theory of cause and effect, I am going to point out what caused the industrial revolution (the effects) within Europe, specifically in Britain. It will be quite interesting to carefully examine the causes of the great wave, which is one of the most noticeable impacts on History.

According to Hempel, the occurrence of an event (E) is explained when a statement describing that event (Explanandum) is logically deduced from general laws (L) and conditions that preceded the event (C) (Explanans). A general law is a universal claim that is capable of being confirmed or refuted by suitable empirical evidence. (Philosophy of Natural Science, p. 50) This is represented in the schema shown below:

C1, C2, C3 … Cn
(Statement of antecedent condition)

L1, L2, L3 … Ln
(General laws)

(Description of the event to be explained)

In order to explain the Industrial revolution in Great Britain during 18th century (E), I would like to state several causes which are from the fields of politics, economy, society, technology, diplomacy, and geography.

C1: Stability in politics brought by Puritan Revolution and Glorious Revolution during 17th century.
C2: Growth of labor population in the city resulted by enclosure movement
C3: Invention of Steam machine
C4: Natural and Financial resources from the colonies
C5: Location which is geographically suitable to trade with other nations
C6: Abundance in resources like coal and iron ore

The First cause (C1) was the stability in politics brought by Puritan revolution and Glorious Revolution. As Britain has gone through the changes in politics, the political system, which was too much King-centered, collapsed and the citizen-centered political system was established. This change has caused the political unrest to die down. This also influenced people to concentrate on economic development, invention of the things and new technologies.

The Second cause (C2) was the growth of labor population in the city, which resulted by enclosure movement. Enclosure movements is a process in many European countries by which commonly held or unoccupied lands or wastelands passed into private ownership.(Encarta, 2003). Under this process of agricultural revolution, the farmers who owned small area of lands were forced to submit their lands or to sell their lands with exorbitant price. These farmers went to the urban cities to get a job. It caused a great increase in population of cities and brought urbanization. According to Adam Smith, the productivity generally increases when the population increases.

The Third cause (C3) was the most important one in industrialization. It was the invention of steam engine. James Watt, a Scottish engineer, invented a steam engine, a mechanical device used to transfer energy to steam into mechanical energy for a variety of application, including propulsion and generating electricity. This has brought great improvement in productivity with efficient using of energy which enabled generating machines in factories.

The Forth cause (C4) was the natural and financial resources from the colonies. Since Britain defeated Spain on the sea in 1588 during Queen Elizabeth era, the number of British colonies greatly increased. Britain received, from its many overseas colonies, the profits from the British slave trade between Africa and the Caribbean, which helped fuel industrial investment. It has been pointed out, however, that slave trade and West Indian plantations provided only 5% of the British national income. (Wikipedia) And a number of British colonies also provided British market places where Britain could sell her goods.

The Fifth cause (C5) was the location with which they had a geographical advantage in trade with other nations. Britain was located in an open area since it was an island. This geographical feature provided great advantages in trading with other countries.

The Sixth cause (C6) was the abundance of resources within the territory. At that time, there was a development of machinery, which worked instead of man. In order to produce machines, iron and coal, which was used to generate machines, were needed. Great Britain was abundant in terms of those natural resources. Based on abundance in resources, Great Britain could build up more factories and machines, which are directly related to productivity. It also brought development of transportation. Constructing rail loads made it possible to travel anywhere in Britain in a short time and it enabled quick supply of goods and services.

Under those conditions (C) that I stated above, Industrial revolution (E) would take place in Britain. Those causes are connected to the effects by several general laws. I would state:

L1: Political stability enables people to engage in economic activities
L2: Growth of population means increase in labor power and increase in labor power brings improvement in productivity
L3: Efficiency in process of producing things brings improvement in productivity
L4: Large amount of capital and resources enables mass production and large- scale production and colonies can serve as a market place
L5: Development in transportation brings Smooth and quick transport of goods and services
L6: Abundant natural resources enable equipment

The main conditions or basis for industrialization to take place are from large amounts of capitals, the increase in labor power, the enhancement in transportation, the technological development, and the possession of market places. According to the general laws I stated above, those causes I have mentioned can make the best environment for industrial revolution (E) to take place.

Cause (C) → General Laws (L) → Effect (E)


Hempel, C.G. (1942). The function of general laws in history. In The Journal of
Philosophy, 39, 35-48.

Marie Hughes Warrington (2009). 50 Key Thinker on History New York: Routlege

Enclosure movement Retrieved from Encarta (1993-2003) Microsoft Corporation

Industrialisation (September 25, 2009) In Wikipedia. The Free Encyclopedia Retrieved 21:59 September 25, 2009 from

Robert L. Heilbroner. The World Philosophers New York: Touchstone book


  1. Isn't writing and reading a Hempelian history fun? :-)

    Why don't you test your conditions if they are truly causes (necessary conditions) by arguing "if C1 did not occur, then L1 is not applicable, would E still happen?"

    Try it for every C you have above.

  2. Hurray! You are my first student who have ever written a Hempelian monograph. Good work.