Evidence and Inductive Inference

In Maria Lasonen-Aarnio & Clayton Littlejohn (eds.), The Routledge Handbook of the Philosophy of Evidence. Routledge. pp. 435-449 (2023)
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Abstract

This chapter presents a typology of the different kinds of inductive inferences we can draw from our evidence, based on the explanatory relationship between evidence and conclusion. Drawing on the literature on graphical models of explanation, I divide inductive inferences into (a) downwards inferences, which proceed from cause to effect, (b) upwards inferences, which proceed from effect to cause, and (c) sideways inferences, which proceed first from effect to cause and then from that cause to an additional effect. I further distinguish between direct and indirect forms of downwards and upwards inferences. I then show how we can subsume canonical forms of inductive inference mentioned in the literature, such as inference to the best explanation, enumerative induction, and analogical inference, under this typology. Along the way, I explore connections with probability and confirmation, epistemic defeat, the relation between abduction and enumerative induction, the compatibility of IBE and Bayesianism, and theories of epistemic justification.

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Nevin Climenhaga
Australian Catholic University

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