Is Explanatoriness a Guide to Confirmation? A Reply to Climenhaga

Journal for General Philosophy of Science / Zeitschrift für Allgemeine Wissenschaftstheorie 48 (4):581-590 (2017)
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Abstract

We argued that explanatoriness is evidentially irrelevant in the following sense: Let H be a hypothesis, O an observation, and E the proposition that H would explain O if H and O were true. Then our claim is that Pr = Pr. We defended this screening-off thesis by discussing an example concerning smoking and cancer. Climenhaga argues that SOT is mistaken because it delivers the wrong verdict about a slightly different smoking-and-cancer case. He also considers a variant of SOT, called “SOT*”, and contends that it too gives the wrong result. We here reply to Climenhaga’s arguments and suggest that SOT provides a criticism of the widely held theory of inference called “inference to the best explanation”.

Author Profiles

Elliott Sober
University of Wisconsin, Madison
William Roche
Texas Christian University

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