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Frank Cabrera
Milwaukee School of Engineering
  1. Can There Be a Bayesian Explanationism? On the Prospects of a Productive Partnership.Frank Cabrera - 2017 - Synthese 194 (4):1245–1272.
    In this paper, I consider the relationship between Inference to the Best Explanation and Bayesianism, both of which are well-known accounts of the nature of scientific inference. In Sect. 2, I give a brief overview of Bayesianism and IBE. In Sect. 3, I argue that IBE in its most prominently defended forms is difficult to reconcile with Bayesianism because not all of the items that feature on popular lists of “explanatory virtues”—by means of which IBE ranks competing explanations—have confirmational import. (...)
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  2. The Fate of Explanatory Reasoning in the Age of Big Data.Frank Cabrera - forthcoming - Philosophy and Technology:1-21.
    In this paper, I critically evaluate several related, provocative claims made by proponents of data-intensive science and “Big Data” which bear on scientific methodology, especially the claim that scientists will soon no longer have any use for familiar concepts like causation and explanation. After introducing the issue, in section 2, I elaborate on the alleged changes to scientific method that feature prominently in discussions of Big Data. In section 3, I argue that these methodological claims are in tension with a (...)
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  3. Evidence and Explanation in Cicero's On Divination.Frank Cabrera - 2020 - Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part A 82:34-43.
    In this paper, I examine Cicero’s oft-neglected De Divinatione, a dialogue investigating the legitimacy of the practice of divination. First, I offer a novel analysis of the main arguments for divination given by Quintus, highlighting the fact that he employs two logically distinct argument forms. Next, I turn to the first of the main arguments against divination given by Marcus. Here I show, with the help of modern probabilistic tools, that Marcus’ skeptical response is far from the decisive, proto-naturalistic assault (...)
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  4. String Theory, Non-Empirical Theory Assessment, and the Context of Pursuit.Frank Cabrera - 2018 - Synthese:1-29.
    In this paper, I offer an analysis of the radical disagreement over the adequacy of string theory. The prominence of string theory despite its notorious lack of empirical support is sometimes explained as a troubling case of science gone awry, driven largely by sociological mechanisms such as groupthink (e.g. Smolin 2006). Others, such as Dawid (2013), explain the controversy by positing a methodological revolution of sorts, according to which string theorists have quietly turned to nonempirical methods of theory assessment given (...)
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  5.  51
    Correlation Isn’T Good Enough: Causal Explanation and Big Data. [REVIEW]Frank Cabrera - forthcoming - Metascience:1-4.
    A review of Gary Smith and Jay Cordes: The Phantom Pattern Problem: The Mirage of Big Data. New York: Oxford University Press, 2020.
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  6. Kevin McCain and Ted Poston’s Best Explanations.Frank Cabrera - 2020 - International Journal for the Study of Skepticism 10 (2):1-10.
    In this critical notice, I focus my attention on the chapters that deal with the explanationist response to skepticism.
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  7. Cladistic Parsimony, Historical Linguistics and Cultural Phylogenetics.Frank Cabrera - 2017 - Mind and Language 32 (1):65-100.
    Here, I consider the recent application of phylogenetic methods in historical linguistics. After a preliminary survey of one such method, i.e. cladistic parsimony, I respond to two common criticisms of cultural phylogenies: that cultural artifacts cannot be modeled as tree-like because of borrowing across lineages, and that the mechanism of cultural change differs radically from that of biological evolution. I argue that while perhaps remains true for certain cultural artifacts, the nature of language may be such as to side-step this (...)
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  8. Does IBE Require a ‘Model’ of Explanation?Frank Cabrera - 2020 - British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 71 (2):727-750.
    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 (...)
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  9. Fake News and Epistemic Vice: Combating a Uniquely Noxious Market.Megan Fritts & Frank Cabrera - forthcoming - Journal of the American Philosophical Association.
    The topic of fake news has received increased attention from philosophers since the term became a favorite of politicians (Habgood-Coote 2016; Dentith 2016). Notably missing from the conversation, however, is a discussion of fake news and conspiracy theory media as a market. This paper will take as its starting point the account of noxious markets put forward by Debra Satz (2010), and will argue that there is a pro tanto moral reason to restrict the market for fake news. Specifically, we (...)
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