Explanatory Rivals and the Ultimate Argument

Theoria 82 (3):217-237 (2016)
Abstract
Although many aspects of Inference to the Best Explanation have been extensively discussed, very little has so far been said about what it takes for a hypothesis to count as a rival explanatory hypothesis in the context of IBE. The primary aim of this article is to rectify this situation by arguing for a specific account of explanatory rivalry. On this account, explanatory rivals are complete explanations of a given explanandum. When explanatory rivals are conceived of in this way, I argue that IBE is a more plausible and defensible rule of inference than it would otherwise be. The secondary aim of the article is to demonstrate the importance of accounts of explanatory rivalry by examining a prominent philosophical argument in which IBE is employed, viz. the so-called Ultimate Argument for scientific realism. In short, I argue that a well-known objection to the Ultimate Argument due to Arthur Fine fails in virtue of tacitly assuming an account of explanatory rivalry that we have independent reasons to reject.
Keywords scientific realism  the ultimate argument  alternative explanations  complete explanations  inference to the best explanation  Arthur Fine
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DOI 10.1111/theo.12084
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References found in this work BETA
Inference to the Best Explanation.Peter Lipton - 2004 - Routledge/Taylor and Francis Group.
Philosophical Papers.David K. Lewis - 1983 - Oxford University Press.
A Confutation of Convergent Realism.Larry Laudan - 1981 - Philosophy of Science 48 (1):19-49.

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