A deductive variation on the no miracles argument

Synthese 201 (81):1-26 (2023)
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Abstract

The traditional No-Miracles Argument (TNMA) asserts that the novel predictive success of science would be a miracle, and thus too implausible to believe, if successful theories were not at least approximately true. The TNMA has come under fire in multiple ways, challenging each of its premises and its general argumentative structure. While the TNMA relies on explaining novel predictive success via the truth of the theories, we put forth a deductive version of the No-Miracles argument (DNMA) that avoids inference to the best explanation entirely. Instead, a relatively simple empirical framework and a probabilistic analysis can accomplish the ambitious goals of the TNMA while entirely sidestepping its problems. This close-but-distinct argument has many independent strengths and comparatively few weaknesses. Indeed, objections tailored specifically to the DNMA reveal surprising insights into how exactly NMAs are neither circular nor question-begging, as has been widely speculated.

Author Profiles

Abraham D. Graber Graber
Western Illinois University
Luke Golemon
University of Arizona

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