Frank Cabrera
Milwaukee School of Engineering
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 explanation. However, I argue that how ranking explanations on this pluralistic account of IBE remains obscure and pluralism leads to contradictory results. In light of these objections, I attempt to dissolve the problem by showing why IBE does not require a ‘model’ of explanation and by giving an account of what explanation consists in within the context of IBE. 1IBE and the Plentitude Problem 2Three Potential Solutions 2.1Solution 1: Primitivism 2.2Solution 2: Accomodationism 2.3Solution 3: Pluralism 3Two Problems for Pluralism 3.1Difficulties with ranking explanations 3.2The inevitability of conflicting verdicts 4Dissolving the Plentitude Problem 4.1The explanatory virtues screen-off the model of explanation 4.2The virtue-centric conception of explanation 5Concluding Remarks
Keywords Explanation  Inference to the Best Explanation  Unification  Explanatory Virtues  Screening-Off  Scientific Inference
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Reprint years 2017, 2020
DOI 10.1093/bjps/axy010
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What is a Law of Nature?D. M. Armstrong - 1983 - Cambridge University Press.
Making Things Happen. A Theory of Causal Explanation.Michael Strevens - 2007 - Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 74 (1):233-249.

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