Does IBE Require a ‘Model’ of Explanation?

British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 71 (2):727-750 (2020)
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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.

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Frank Cabrera
University of Wisconsin, Madison (PhD)


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