Is explanation a guide to inference? A reply to Wesley salmon
David Bourget (Western Ontario)
David Chalmers (ANU, NYU)
Rafael De Clercq
Jack Alan Reynolds
Learn more about PhilPapers
In G. Hon & Sam S. Rakover (eds.), Explanation: Theoretical Approaches and Applications. Springer (2003)
Earlier in this volume, Wesley Salmon has given a characteristically clear and trenchant critique of the account of non-demonstrative reasoning known by the slogan `Inference to the Best Explanation'. As a long-time fan of the idea that explanatory considerations are a guide to inference, I was delighted by the suggestion that Wes and I might work together on a discussion of the issues. In the event, this project has exceeded my high expectations, for in addition to the intellectual gain that comes from the careful study of his essay, I have benefited enormously from the stream of illuminating emails and faxes that Wes has sent me during our collaboration. Doing philosophy together has been an education and a pleasure. Salmon's essay would place Inference to the Best Explanation beyond the pale of acceptable philosophical accounts of inference. According to Salmon, Inference to the Best Explanation has serious internal difficulties and compares very unfavourably with Bayesian approaches to these matters. My aim in the following remarks is irenic. I hope to show that a number of the claimed difficulties either are not really difficulties or are avoidable. In some cases, the avoidance will require a mild reinterpretation of the account that lies behind the slogan `Inference to the Best Explanation'; in others, it will require admitting limits to the scope of the account. For I accept at the outset that Inference to the Best Explanation cannot possibly be the whole story about the assessment of scientific hypotheses. For me, the interesting idea is simply that we sometimes decide how likely a hypothesis is to be correct in part by considering how good an explanation it would provide, if it were correct. This is the idea of explanatory considerations providing a guide to inference, and this is the idea that I will here promote.
|Keywords||No keywords specified (fix it)|
|Categories||categorize this paper)|
Setup an account with your affiliations in order to access resources via your University's proxy server
Configure custom proxy (use this if your affiliation does not provide a proxy)
|Through your library|
References found in this work BETA
No references found.
Citations of this work BETA
Carlo Cellucci (2008). The Nature of Mathematical Explanation. Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part A 39 (2):202-210.
Carlo Cellucci (2008). The Nature of Mathematical Explanation. Studies in History and Philosophy of Science 39 (2):202-210.
Similar books and articles
Daniel G. Campos (2011). On the Distinction Between Peirce's Abduction and Lipton's Inference to the Best Explanation. Synthese 180 (3):419 - 442.
James H. Fetzer (1991). Book Review:Scientific Explanation Philip Kitcher, Wesley C. Salmon; Four Decades of Scientific Explanation Wesley C. Salmon. [REVIEW] Philosophy of Science 58 (2):288-.
Henk W. de Regt (2006). Wesley Salmon's Complementarity Thesis: Causalism and Unificationism Reconciled? International Studies in the Philosophy of Science 20 (2):129 – 147.
Yemima Ben-Menahem (1990). The Inference to the Best Explanation. Erkenntnis 33 (3):319-44.
Ken Binmore (1985). Review Symposium. Thesis Eleven 12 (1):145-155.
D. Turner (2000). The Functions of Fossils: Inference and Explanation in Functional Morphology. Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part C 31 (1):193-212.
William G. Lycan (2002). Explanation and Epistemology. In Paul K. Moser (ed.), The Oxford Handbook of Epistemology. Oxford University Press 413.
Steven Rappaport (1996). Inference to the Best Explanation: Is It Really Different From Mill's Methods? Philosophy of Science 63 (1):65-80.
Peter Lipton (2007). Alien Abduction: Inference to the Best Explanation and the Management of Testimony. Episteme 4 (3):238-251.
Peter Lipton (2004). Inference to the Best Explanation. Routledge/Taylor and Francis Group.
Added to index2009-01-28
Total downloads65 ( #55,733 of 1,780,204 )
Recent downloads (6 months)5 ( #122,348 of 1,780,204 )
How can I increase my downloads?