Reintroducing prediction to explanation

Philosophy of Science 76 (4):444-463 (2009)
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Although prediction has been largely absent from discussions of explanation for the past 40 years, theories of explanation can gain much from a reintroduction. I review the history that divorced prediction from explanation, examine the proliferation of models of explanation that followed, and argue that accounts of explanation have been impoverished by the neglect of prediction. Instead of a revival of the symmetry thesis, I suggest that explanation should be understood as a cognitive tool that assists us in generating new predictions. This view of explanation and prediction clarifies what makes an explanation scientific and why inference to the best explanation makes sense in science. *Received August 2009; revised September 2009. †To contact the author, please write to: Department of Philosophy, University of Tennessee, 801 McClung Tower, Knoxville, TN 37920‐0480; e‐mail: [email protected].



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Heather Douglas
Michigan State University

References found in this work

The Fate of Knowledge.Helen E. Longino - 2002 - Princeton University Press.
Précis of Inference to the Best Explanation, 2 nd Edition.Peter Lipton - 2007 - Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 74 (2):421-423.
Four Decades of Scientific Explanation.Wesley C. Salmon & Anne Fagot-Largeault - 1989 - History and Philosophy of the Life Sciences 16 (2):355.
Explanation.Jim Woodward - 2002 - In Peter Machamer & Michael Silberstein (eds.), The Blackwell Guide to the Philosophy of Science. Oxford, UK: Blackwell. pp. 37–54.

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