Does IBE Require a ‘Model’ of Explanation?

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Abstract
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 explanation. However, I argue that how ranking explanations on this pluralistic account of IBE remains obscure and pluralism leads to contradictory results. In light of these objections, I attempt to dissolve the problem by showing why IBE does not require a ‘model’ of explanation and by giving an account of what explanation consists in within the context of IBE. 1IBE and the Plentitude Problem 2Three Potential Solutions 2.1Solution 1: Primitivism 2.2Solution 2: Accomodationism 2.3Solution 3: Pluralism 3Two Problems for Pluralism 3.1Difficulties with ranking explanations 3.2The inevitability of conflicting verdicts 4Dissolving the Plentitude Problem 4.1The explanatory virtues screen-off the model of explanation 4.2The virtue-centric conception of explanation 5Concluding Remarks
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First archival date: 2017-07-06
Latest version: 3 (2017-09-19)
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2017-07-06

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