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  1. Does IBE Require a "Model" of Explanation?Frank Cabrera - 2017 - British Journal for the Philosophy of Science:axy010.
    In this paper, I consider an important challenge to the popular theory of scientific inference commonly known as “Inference to the Best Explanation” (IBE), one which has received scant attention. The problem is that there exists a wide array of rival models of explanation, thus leaving IBE objectionably indeterminate. First, I briefly introduce IBE. Then, I motivate the problem and offer three potential solutions, the most plausible of which is to adopt a kind of pluralism about the rival models of (...)
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  2. The Heuristic Conception of Inference to the Best Explanation.Finnur Dellsén - 2018 - Philosophical Studies 175 (7):1745-1766.
    An influential suggestion about the relationship between Bayesianism and inference to the best explanation holds that IBE functions as a heuristic to approximate Bayesian reasoning. While this view promises to unify Bayesianism and IBE in a very attractive manner, important elements of the view have not yet been spelled out in detail. I present and argue for a heuristic conception of IBE on which IBE serves primarily to locate the most probable available explanatory hypothesis to serve as a working hypothesis (...)
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  3. Enthymemes, Argumentation Schemes, and Topics.Fabrizio Macagno & Douglas Walton - 2009 - Logique Et Analyse 52 (205):39-56.
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  4. Comprehensibility Rather Than Beauty.Nicholas Maxwell - 2001 - PhilSci Archive.
    Most scientists and philosophers of science recognize that, when it comes to accepting and rejecting theories in science, considerations that have to do with simplicity, unity, symmetry, elegance, beauty or explanatory power have an important role to play, in addition to empirical considerations. Until recently, however, no one has been able to give a satisfactory account of what simplicity (etc.) is, or how giving preference to simple theories is to be justified. But in the last few years, two different but (...)
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  5. The Perils of Parsimony.William Roche - forthcoming - Journal of Philosophy.
    It is widely thought in philosophy and elsewhere that parsimony is a theoretical virtue in that if T1 is more parsimonious than T2, then T1 is preferable to T2, other things being equal. This thesis admits of many distinct precisifications. I focus on a relatively weak precisification on which preferability is a matter of probability, and argue that it is false. This is problematic for various alternative precisifications, and even for Inference to the Best Explanation as standardly understood.
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Inference to the Best Explanation, Misc
  1. Abduction by Philosophers: Reorienting Philosophical Methodology.James Andow - 2016 - Metaphilosophy 47 (3):353-370.
    A reorientation is needed in methodological debate about the role of intuitions in philosophy. Methodological debate has lost sight of the reason why it makes sense to focus on questions about intuitions when thinking about the methods or epistemology of philosophy. The problem is an approach to methodology that focuses almost exclusively on questions about some evidential role that intuitions may or may not play in philosophers’ arguments. A new approach is needed. Approaching methodological questions about the role of intuitions (...)
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  2. Unobservability of Short-Lived Particles: Ground for Skepticism About Observational Claims in Elementary Particle Physics.Marcoen J. T. F. Cabbolet - manuscript
    The physics literature contains many claims that elementary particles have been observed: such observational claims are, of course, important for the development of existential knowledge. Regarding claimed observations of short-lived unstable particles in particular, the use of the word 'observation' is based on the convention in physics that the observation of a short-lived unstable particle can be claimed when its predicted decay products have been observed with a significance of 5 sigma. This paper, however, shows that this 5 sigma convention (...)
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  3. Cladistic Parsimony, Historical Linguistics and Cultural Phylogenetics.Frank Cabrera - 2017 - Mind and Language 32 (1):65-100.
    Here, I consider the recent application of phylogenetic methods in historical linguistics. After a preliminary survey of one such method, i.e. cladistic parsimony, I respond to two common criticisms of cultural phylogenies: that cultural artifacts cannot be modeled as tree-like because of borrowing across lineages, and that the mechanism of cultural change differs radically from that of biological evolution. I argue that while perhaps remains true for certain cultural artifacts, the nature of language may be such as to side-step this (...)
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  4. Can There Be a Bayesian Explanationism? On the Prospects of a Productive Partnership.Frank Cabrera - 2017 - Synthese 194 (4):1245–1272.
    In this paper, I consider the relationship between Inference to the Best Explanation and Bayesianism, both of which are well-known accounts of the nature of scientific inference. In Sect. 2, I give a brief overview of Bayesianism and IBE. In Sect. 3, I argue that IBE in its most prominently defended forms is difficult to reconcile with Bayesianism because not all of the items that feature on popular lists of “explanatory virtues”—by means of which IBE ranks competing explanations—have confirmational import. (...)
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  5. Beyond Falsifiability: Normal Science in a Multiverse.Sean M. Carroll - forthcoming - In Richard Dawid, Radin Dardashti & Karim Thebault (eds.), Epistemology of Fundamental Physics: Why Trust a Theory? Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press.
    Cosmological models that invoke a multiverse - a collection of unobservable regions of space where conditions are very different from the region around us - are controversial, on the grounds that unobservable phenomena shouldn't play a crucial role in legitimate scientific theories. I argue that the way we evaluate multiverse models is precisely the same as the way we evaluate any other models, on the basis of abduction, Bayesian inference, and empirical success. There is no scientifically respectable way to do (...)
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  6. How Explanation Guides Confirmation.Nevin Climenhaga - 2017 - Philosophy of Science 84 (2):359-68.
    Where E is the proposition that [If H and O were true, H would explain O], William Roche and Elliot Sober have argued that P(H|O&E) = P(H|O). In this paper I argue that not only is this equality not generally true, it is false in the very kinds of cases that Roche and Sober focus on, involving frequency data. In fact, in such cases O raises the probability of H only given that there is an explanatory connection between them.
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  7. Belief is Not the Issue: A Defence of Inference to the Best Explanation.Gregory W. Dawes - 2013 - Ratio 26 (1):62-78.
    Defences of inference to the best explanation (IBE) frequently associate IBE with scientific realism, the idea that it is reasonable to believe our best scientific theories. I argue that this linkage is unfortunate. IBE does not warrant belief, since the fact that a theory is the best available explanation does not show it to be (even probably) true. What IBE does warrant is acceptance: taking a proposition as a premise in theoretical and/or practical reasoning. We ought to accept our best (...)
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  8. Abductively Robust Inference.Finnur Dellsén - 2017 - Analysis 77 (1):20-29.
    Inference to the Best Explanation (IBE) is widely criticized for being an unreliable form of ampliative inference – partly because the explanatory hypotheses we have considered at a given time may all be false, and partly because there is an asymmetry between the comparative judgment on which an IBE is based and the absolute verdict that IBE is meant to license. In this paper, I present a further reason to doubt the epistemic merits of IBE and argue that it motivates (...)
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  9. Ted Poston, Reason and Explanation: A Defense of Explanatory Coherentism. [REVIEW]Finnur Dellsén - 2017 - Dialectica 71 (1):117-124.
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  10. Reactionary Responses to the Bad Lot Objection.Finnur Dellsén - 2017 - Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part A 61:32-40.
    As it is standardly conceived, Inference to the Best Explanation (IBE) is a form of ampliative inference in which one infers a hypothesis because it provides a better potential explanation of one’s evidence than any other available, competing explanatory hypothesis. Bas van Fraassen famously objected to IBE thus formulated that we may have no reason to think that any of the available, competing explanatory hypotheses are true. While revisionary responses to the Bad Lot Objection concede that IBE needs to be (...)
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  11. Explanatory Rivals and the Ultimate Argument.Finnur Dellsén - 2016 - Theoria 82 (3):217-237.
    Although many aspects of Inference to the Best Explanation have been extensively discussed, very little has so far been said about what it takes for a hypothesis to count as a rival explanatory hypothesis in the context of IBE. The primary aim of this article is to rectify this situation by arguing for a specific account of explanatory rivalry. On this account, explanatory rivals are complete explanations of a given explanandum. When explanatory rivals are conceived of in this way, I (...)
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  12. Tvö viðhorf til vísindalegrar þekkingar -- eða eitt?Finnur Dellsén - 2015 - Ritið -- Tímarit Hugvísindastofnunar 15 (1):135-155.
    There are two main approaches to the epistemology of science. On the one hand, some hold that a scientific hypothesis is confirmed to the extent that the hypothesis explains the evidence better than alternative hypotheses concerning the same subject-matter. This idea is often referred to as Inference to the Best Explanation. On the other hand, some hold that a scientific hypothesis is confirmed to the extent that the hypothesis is probable given the evidence. This idea is often associated with Bayesianism (...)
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  13. More in Defense of Weak Scientism.Moti Mizrahi - 2018 - Social Epistemology Review and Reply Collective 7 (4):7-25.
    In my (2017a), I defend a view I call Weak Scientism, which is the view that knowledge produced by scientific disciplines is better than knowledge produced by non-scientific disciplines. Scientific knowledge can be said to be quantitatively better than non-scientific knowledge insofar as scientific disciplines produce more impactful knowledge–in the form of scholarly publications–than non-scientific disciplines (as measured by research output and research impact). Scientific knowledge can be said to be qualitatively better than non-scientific knowledge insofar as such knowledge is (...)
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  14. Weak Scientism Defended Once More: A Reply to Wills.Moti Mizrahi - 2018 - Social Epistemology Review and Reply Collective 7 (6):41-50.
    Bernard Wills (2018) joins Christopher Brown (2017, 2018) in criticizing my defense of Weak Scientism (Mizrahi 2017a, 2017b, 2018a). Unfortunately, it seems that Wills did not read my latest defense of Weak Scientism carefully, nor does he cite any of the other papers in my exchange with Brown.
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  15. Why Scientific Knowledge Is Still the Best.Moti Mizrahi - 2018 - Social Epistemology Review and Reply Collective 7 (9):18-32.
    In his latest attack, even though he claims to be a practitioner of “close reading” (Wills 2018b, 34), it appears that Wills still has not bothered to read the paper in which I defend the thesis he seeks to attack (Mizrahi 2017a), or any of the papers in my exchange with Brown (Mizrahi 2017b; 2018a), as evidenced by the fact that he does not cite them at all. This explains why Wills completely misunderstands Weak Scientism and the arguments for the (...)
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  16. In Defense of Weak Scientism: A Reply to Brown.Moti Mizrahi - 2017 - Social Epistemology Review and Reply Collective 6 (2):9-22.
    In “What’s So Bad about Scientism?” (Mizrahi 2017), I argue that Weak Scientism, the view that “Of all the knowledge we have, scientific knowledge is the best knowledge” (Mizrahi 2017, 354; emphasis in original) is a defensible position. That is to say, Weak Scientism “can be successfully defended against objections” (Mizrahi 2017, 354). In his response to Mizrahi (2017), Christopher Brown (2017) provides more objections against Weak Scientism, and thus another opportunity for me to show that Weak Scientism is a (...)
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  17. What’s so Bad About Scientism?Moti Mizrahi - 2017 - Social Epistemology 31 (4):351-367.
    In their attempt to defend philosophy from accusations of uselessness made by prominent scientists, such as Stephen Hawking, some philosophers respond with the charge of ‘scientism.’ This charge makes endorsing a scientistic stance, a mistake by definition. For this reason, it begs the question against these critics of philosophy, or anyone who is inclined to endorse a scientistic stance, and turns the scientism debate into a verbal dispute. In this paper, I propose a different definition of scientism, and thus a (...)
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  18. Theoretical Identities as Explanantia and Explananda.Kevin Morris - 2011 - American Philosophical Quarterly 48 (4):373-385.
    The mind-brain identity theory, the thesis that sensations are identical with properties or processes of the brain, was introduced into contemporary discussion by U.T. Place, Herbert Feigl, and J.J.C Smart in the 1950s. Despite its widespread rejection in the following decades, the identity theory has received several carefully articulated defenses in recent years. Aside from developing novel responses to well-known arguments against the identity theory, contemporary identity theorists have argued that the epistemological resources available to support the adoption of identities (...)
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  19. Inferentially Remembering That P.Andrew Naylor - 2015 - Logos and Episteme 6 (2):225-230.
    Most of our memories are inferential, so says Sven Bernecker in Memory: A Philosophical Study. I show that his account of inferentially remembering that p is too strong. A revision of the account that avoids the difficulty is proposed. Since inferential memory that p is memory that q (a proposition distinct from p) with an admixture of inference from one’s memory that q and a true thought one has that r, its analysis presupposes an adequate account of the (presumably non-inferential) (...)
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  20. Presume It Not: True Causes in the Search for the Basis of Heredity.Aaron Novick & Raphael Scholl - 2017 - British Journal for the Philosophy of Science:axy001.
    Kyle Stanford has recently given substance to the problem of unconceived alternatives, which challenges the reliability of inference to the best explanation (IBE) in remote domains of nature. Conjoined with the view that IBE is the central inferential tool at our disposal in investigating these domains, the problem of unconceived alternatives leads to scientific anti-realism. We argue that, at least within the biological community, scientists are now and have long been aware of the dangers of IBE. We re-analyze the nineteenth-century (...)
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  21. Undermining Truthmaker Theory.Timothy Perrine - 2015 - Synthese 192 (1):185-200.
    Truthmaker theorists hold that there is a metaphysically explanatory relation that holds between true claims and what exists. While some critics try to provide counterexamples to truthmaker theory, that response quickly leads to a dialectical standoff. The aim of this paper is to move beyond that standoff by attempting to undermine some standard arguments for truthmaker theory. Using realism about truth and a more pragmatic account of explanation, I show how some of those arguments can be undermined.
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  22. A Normative Yet Coherent Naturalism.Steve Petersen - 2014 - Philo 17 (1):77-91.
    Naturalism is normally taken to be an ideology, censuring non-naturalistic alternatives. But as many critics have pointed out, this ideological stance looks internally incoherent, since it is not obviously endorsed by naturalistic methods. Naturalists who have addressed this problem universally foreswear the normative component of naturalism by, in effect, giving up science’s exclusive claim to legitimacy. This option makes naturalism into an empty expression of personal preference that can carry no weight in the philosophical or political spheres. In response to (...)
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  23. Explanation, Confirmation, and Hempel's Paradox.William Roche - 2018 - In Kevin McCain & Ted Poston (eds.), Best explanations: New essays on inference to the best explanation. Oxford: Oxford University Press. pp. 219-241.
    Hempel’s Converse Consequence Condition (CCC), Entailment Condition (EC), and Special Consequence Condition (SCC) have some prima facie plausibility when taken individually. Hempel, though, shows that they have no plausibility when taken together, for together they entail that E confirms H for any propositions E and H. This is “Hempel’s paradox”. It turns out that Hempel’s argument would fail if one or more of CCC, EC, and SCC were modified in terms of explanation. This opens up the possibility that Hempel’s paradox (...)
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  24. Is Explanatoriness a Guide to Confirmation? A Reply to Climenhaga.William Roche & Elliott Sober - 2017 - Journal for General Philosophy of Science / Zeitschrift für Allgemeine Wissenschaftstheorie 48 (4):581-590.
    We argued that explanatoriness is evidentially irrelevant in the following sense: Let H be a hypothesis, O an observation, and E the proposition that H would explain O if H and O were true. Then our claim is that Pr = Pr. We defended this screening-off thesis by discussing an example concerning smoking and cancer. Climenhaga argues that SOT is mistaken because it delivers the wrong verdict about a slightly different smoking-and-cancer case. He also considers a variant of SOT, called (...)
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  25. Existence Problems in Philosophy and Science.Peter W. Ross & Dale Turner - 2013 - Synthese 190 (18):4239-4259.
    We initially characterize what we’ll call existence problems as problems where there is evidence that a putative entity exists and this evidence is not easily dismissed; however, the evidence is not adequate to justify the claim that the entity exists, and in particular the entity hasn’t been detected. The putative entity is elusive. We then offer a strategy for determining whether an existence problem is philosophical or scientific. According to this strategy (1) existence problems are characterized in terms of causal (...)
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  26. Abductive Two-Dimensionalism: A New Route to the A Priori Identification of Necessary Truths.Biggs Stephen & Wilson Jessica - forthcoming - Synthese:1-35.
    Epistemic two-dimensional semantics (E2D), advocated by Chalmers (2006) and Jackson (1998), among others, aims to restore the link between necessity and a priority seemingly broken by Kripke (1972/1980), by showing how armchair access to semantic intensions provides a basis for knowledge of necessary a posteriori truths (among other modal claims). The most compelling objections to E2D are that, for one or other reason, the requisite intensions are not accessible from the armchair (see, e.g., Wilson 1982, Melnyk 2008). As we substantiate (...)
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  27. Scientific Realism, Adaptationism and the Problem of the Criterion.Fabio Sterpetti - 2015 - Kairos 13:7-45.
    Scientific Realism (SR) has three crucial aspects: 1) the centrality of the concept of truth, 2) the idea that success is a reliable indicator of truth, and 3) the idea that the Inference to the Best Explanation is a reliable inference rule. It will be outlined how some realists try to overcome the difficulties which arise in justifying such crucial aspects relying on an adaptationist view of evolutionism, and why such attempts are inadequate. Finally, we will briefly sketch some of (...)
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  28. Best Explanationism and Justification for Beliefs About the Future.Gregory Stoutenburg - 2015 - Episteme 12 (4):429-437.
    Earl Conee and Richard Feldman have recently argued that the evidential support relation should be understood in terms of explanatory coherence: roughly, one's evidence supports a proposition if and only if that proposition is part of the best available explanation of the evidence. Their thesis has been criticized through alleged counterexamples, perhaps the most important of which are cases where a subject has a justified belief about the future. Kevin McCain has defended the thesis against Byerly's counterexample. I argue that (...)
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  29. Experiment in Biology (2018 Update).Marcel Weber - 2018 - Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy.
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  30. Explanatory Indispensability and Deliberative Indispensability: Against Enoch's Analogy.Alex Worsnip - 2016 - Thought: A Journal of Philosophy 5 (4):226-235.
    In this note, I discuss David Enoch's influential deliberative indispensability argument for metanormative realism, and contend that the argument fails. In doing so, I uncover an important disanalogy between explanatory indispensability arguments and deliberative indispensability arguments, one that explains how we could accept the former without accepting the latter.
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