The Contextual Theory of Explanation and Inference to the Best Explanation

Axiomathes 32 (2):311-326 (2022)
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Abstract

Van Fraassen explains rejections and asymmetries in science in terms of his contextual theory of explanation in the same way that scientists explain observable phenomena in the world in terms of scientific theories. I object that van Fraassen’s skeptical view regarding inference to the best explanation together with the English view of rationality jointly imply that the contextual theory is not rationally compelling, so van Fraassen and his epistemic colleagues can rationally disbelieve it. Prasetya replies that the truth of the contextual theory coincides with its empirical adequacy, so the contextual theory is compelling. He also replies that the contextual theory is compelling, provided that van Fraassen’s argument for it instantiates a compelling subset of IBE. I argue that Prasetya’s replies either fail or help scientific realism.

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Seungbae Park
Ulsan National Institute Of Science And Technology

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