Eliminative abduction: examples from medicine

Authors
Alexander James Bird
King's College London
Abstract
Peter Lipton argues that inference to the best explanation involves the selection of a hypothesis on the basis of its loveliness. I argue that in optimal cases of IBE we may be able to eliminate all but one of the hypotheses. In such cases we have a form of eliminative induction takes place, which I call ‘Holmesian inference’. I argue that Lipton’s example in which Ignaz Semmelweis identified a cause of puerperal fever better illustrates Holmesian inference than Liptonian IBE. I consider in detail the conditions under which Holmesian inference is possible and conclude by considering the epistemological relations between Holmesian inference and Liptonian IBE.Keywords: Inference to the best explanation; Peter Lipton; Abduction; Holmesian inference; Eliminative induction.
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DOI 10.1016/j.shpsa.2010.10.009
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References found in this work BETA

Abductive Knowledge and Holmesian Inference.Alexander Bird - 2005 - In Tamar Szabo Gendler & John Hawthorne (eds.), Oxford Studies in Epistemology. Oxford University Press. pp. 1--31.
Hempelian and Kuhnian Approaches in the Philosophy of Medicine: The Semmelweis Case.Donald Gillies - 2005 - Studies in History and Philosophy of Biological and Biomedical Sciences 36 (1):159-181.
Inference to the Only Explanation. [REVIEW]Alexander Bird - 2007 - Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 74 (2):424–432.
Inference to the Best Explanation.Peter Lipton - 2007 - Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 74 (2):424-432.
Hempelian and Kuhnian Approaches in the Philosophy of Medicine: The Semmelweis Case.Donald Gillies - 2005 - Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part C: Studies in History and Philosophy of Biological and Biomedical Sciences 36 (1):159-181.

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Citations of this work BETA

Why the Ultimate Argument for Scientific Realism Ultimately Fails.Moti Mizrahi - 2012 - Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part A 43 (1):132-138.
Causal Inference, Mechanisms, and the Semmelweis Case.Raphael Scholl - 2013 - Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part A 44 (1):66-76.
Shattering the Myth of Semmelweis.Dana Tulodziecki - 2013 - Philosophy of Science 80 (5):1065-1075.

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