Abductive knowledge and Holmesian inference

In Tamar Szabó Gendler & John Hawthorne (eds.), Oxford Studies in Epistemology. Oxford University Press. pp. 1--31 (2005)
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Abstract

The usual, comparative, conception of inference to the best explanation (IBE) takes it to be ampliative. In this paper I propose a conception of IBE ('Holmesian inference') that takes it to be a species of eliminative induction and hence not ampliative. This avoids several problems for comparative IBE (for example, how could it be reliable enough to generate knowledge?). My account of Holmesian inference raises the suspicion that it could never be applied, on the grounds that scientific hypotheses are inevitably underdetermined by the evidence (i.e. are inevitably ampliative). I argue that this concern may be resisted by acknowledging, as Timothy Williamson has shown, that all knowledge is evidence. The latter suggests an approach to resisting scepticism different from those (e.g. the reliabilist approach) that embrace fallibilism.

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Alexander James Bird
Cambridge University

Citations of this work

What reasoning might be.Markos Valaris - 2017 - Synthese 194 (6).
Some Evidence is False.Alexander Arnold - 2013 - Australasian Journal of Philosophy 91 (1):165 - 172.
Inductions, Red Herrings, and the Best Explanation for the Mixed Record of Science.P. D. Magnus - 2010 - British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 61 (4):803-819.
Eliminative abduction: examples from medicine.Alexander Bird - 2010 - Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part A 41 (4):345-352.

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