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  1. The Fate of Explanatory Reasoning in the Age of Big Data.Frank Cabrera - forthcoming - Philosophy and Technology:1-21.
    In this paper, I critically evaluate several related, provocative claims made by proponents of data-intensive science and “Big Data” which bear on scientific methodology, especially the claim that scientists will soon no longer have any use for familiar concepts like causation and explanation. After introducing the issue, in section 2, I elaborate on the alleged changes to scientific method that feature prominently in discussions of Big Data. In section 3, I argue that these methodological claims are in tension with a (...)
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  • 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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  • What Inference to the Best Explanation Is Not: A Response to Roche and Sober's Screening-Off Challenge to IBE.Marc Lange - 2020 - Teorema: International Journal of Philosophy 39:27-42.
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  • Inference to the Best Explanation Made Incoherent.Nevin Climenhaga - 2017 - Journal of Philosophy 114 (5):251-273.
    Defenders of Inference to the Best Explanation claim that explanatory factors should play an important role in empirical inference. They disagree, however, about how exactly to formulate this role. In particular, they disagree about whether to formulate IBE as an inference rule for full beliefs or for degrees of belief, as well as how a rule for degrees of belief should relate to Bayesianism. In this essay I advance a new argument against non-Bayesian versions of IBE. My argument focuses on (...)
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  • Does IBE Require a ‘Model’ of Explanation?Frank Cabrera - 2017 - British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 71 (2):727-750.
    In this article, I consider an important challenge to the popular theory of scientific inference commonly known as ‘inference to the best explanation’, one that has received scant attention.1 1 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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  • Coherence, Probability and Explanation.William Roche & Michael Schippers - 2014 - Erkenntnis 79 (4):821-828.
    Recently there have been several attempts in formal epistemology to develop an adequate probabilistic measure of coherence. There is much to recommend probabilistic measures of coherence. They are quantitative and render formally precise a notion—coherence—notorious for its elusiveness. Further, some of them do very well, intuitively, on a variety of test cases. Siebel, however, argues that there can be no adequate probabilistic measure of coherence. Take some set of propositions A, some probabilistic measure of coherence, and a probability distribution such (...)
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  • Grading the Quality of Evidence of Mechanisms.Stefan Dragulinescu - 2018 - Dissertation, University of Kent
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  • 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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  • Explanation, Confirmation, and Hempel's Paradox.William Roche - 2017 - 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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  • 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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  • Inductive Explanation and Garber–Style Solutions to the Problem of Old Evidence.David Kinney - 2017 - Synthese:1-15.
    The Problem of Old Evidence is a perennial issue for Bayesian confirmation theory. Garber famously argues that the problem can be solved by conditionalizing on the proposition that a hypothesis deductively implies the existence of the old evidence. In recent work, Hartmann and Fitelson :712–717, 2015) and Sprenger :383–401, 2015) aim for similar, but more general, solutions to the Problem of Old Evidence. These solutions are more general because they allow the explanatory relationship between a new hypothesis and old evidence (...)
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  • 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 (1):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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  • The Evidential Relevance of Explanatoriness: A Reply to Roche and Sober.Marc Lange - 2017 - Analysis 77 (2):303-312.
    Roche and Sober have offered a new argument for the view that a hypothesis H is not confirmed by its capacity to explain some observation O. Their argument purports to work by showing that O screens H off from the fact that H would explain O. This paper offers several objections to this argument. Firstly, the screening-off test cannot identify whatever evidential contribution Hs explanatoriness may make. Secondly, that H would explain O may be logically necessary, eluding the screening-off test. (...)
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  • The Divisibility of Basic Actions.Kevin Lynch - 2017 - Analysis 77 (2):312-318.
    The notion of basic action has recently come under attack based on the idea that any putative basic action can always be divided into more basic sub-actions. In this paper it is argued that this criticism ignores a key aspect of the idea of basic action, namely, the ‘anything else’ part of the idea that basic actions are not done by doing anything else. This aspect is clarified, and it is argued that doing the sub-actions of which a putative basic (...)
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  • Confirmation by Explanation: A Bayesian Justification of IBE.Marko Tesic, Benjamin Eva & Stephan Hartmann - unknown
    We provide a novel Bayesian justification of inference to the best explanation. More specifically, we present conditions under which explanatory considerations can provide a significant confirmatory boost for hypotheses that provide the best explanation of the relevant evidence. Furthermore, we show that the proposed Bayesian model of IBE is able to deal naturally with the best known criticisms of IBE such as van Fraassen?s?bad lot? argument.
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  • Inference to the Best Explanation Versus Bayes’s Rule in a Social Setting.Igor Douven & Sylvia Wenmackers - 2017 - British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 68 (2).
    This article compares inference to the best explanation with Bayes’s rule in a social setting, specifically, in the context of a variant of the Hegselmann–Krause model in which agents not only update their belief states on the basis of evidence they receive directly from the world, but also take into account the belief states of their fellow agents. So far, the update rules mentioned have been studied only in an individualistic setting, and it is known that in such a setting (...)
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  • A Defense of Intrapersonal Belief Permissivism.Elizabeth Jackson - forthcoming - Episteme:1-15.
    Permissivism is the view that there are evidential situations that rationally permit more than one attitude toward a proposition. In this paper, I argue for Intrapersonal Belief Permissivism (IaBP): that there are evidential situations in which a single agent can rationally adopt more than one belief-attitude toward a proposition. I give two positive arguments for IaBP; the first involves epistemic supererogation and the second involves doubt. Then, I should how these arguments give intrapersonal permissivists a distinct response to the toggling (...)
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  • 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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  • Explanation and the Nature of Scientific Knowledge.Kevin McCain - 2015 - Science & Education 24 (7-8):827-854.
    Explaining phenomena is a primary goal of science. Consequently, it is unsurprising that gaining a proper understanding of the nature of explanation is an important goal of science education. In order to properly understand explanation, however, it is not enough to simply consider theories of the nature of explanation. Properly understanding explanation requires grasping the relation between explanation and understanding, as well as how explanations can lead to scientific knowledge. This article examines the nature of explanation, its relation to understanding, (...)
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  • Medical Mechanisms and the Resilience of Probabilities.Stefan Dragulinescu - 2019 - Episteme 16 (3):322-339.
    ABSTRACTThis paper argues that there is an important connection between Inference to the Best Explanation and Bayesianism, in the medical context of the interplay between mechanisms and population studies. It is argued that the criteria for evaluating mechanistic evidence can be used in Inference to the Best Explanation and such use thereby increases the resilience of probabilities in a Bayesian framework. This point grows out of the emerging literature on evidence-based medicine and naturally strengthens McCain and Poston's proposal that explanatory (...)
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  • Explanatoriness and Evidence: A Reply to McCain and Poston.William Roche & Elliott Sober - 2014 - Thought: A Journal of Philosophy 3 (3):193-199.
    We argue elsewhere that explanatoriness is evidentially irrelevant . Let H be some hypothesis, O some observation, and E the proposition that H would explain O if H and O were true. Then O screens-off E from H: Pr = Pr. This thesis, hereafter “SOT” , is defended by appeal to a representative case. The case concerns smoking and lung cancer. McCain and Poston grant that SOT holds in cases, like our case concerning smoking and lung cancer, that involve frequency (...)
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  • Replies to Commentators on Did Darwin Write the Origin Backwards?Elliott Sober - 2015 - Philosophical Studies 172 (3):829-840.
    Here I reply to Jean Gayon's, Tim Lewens's, and Samir Okasha's comments on Did Darwin write the Origin backwards? The topics addressed include: Darwin's thinking that common ancestry is "evidentially prior" to natural selection; how Darwin uses phylogenetic trees to test hypotheses concerning natural selection; how group and indivdiual selection should be defined, and how each is related to the concept of adaptation.
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  • Why Explanatoriness Is Evidentially Relevant.Kevin McCain & Ted Poston - 2014 - Thought: A Journal of Philosophy 3 (2):145-153.
    William Roche and Elliott Sober argue that explanatoriness is evidentially irrelevant. This conclusion is surprising since it conflicts with a plausible assumption—the fact that a hypothesis best explains a given set of data is evidence that the hypothesis is true. We argue that Roche and Sober's screening-off argument fails to account for a key aspect of evidential strength: the weight of a body of evidence. The weight of a body of evidence affects the resiliency of probabilities in the light of (...)
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