Inference to the Best Explanation Versus Explaining for the Best Inference

Science & Education 24 (9-10):1059-1077 (2015)

Authors
Tania Lombrozo
University of California, Berkeley
Daniel Wilkenfeld
University of Pittsburgh
Abstract
In pedagogical contexts and in everyday life, we often come to believe something because it would best explain the data. What is it about the explanatory endeavor that makes it essential to everyday learning and to scientific progress? There are at least two plausible answers. On one view, there is something special about having true explanations. This view is highly intuitive: it’s clear why true explanations might improve one’s epistemic position. However, there is another possibility—it could be that the process of seeking, generating, or evaluating explanations itself puts one in a better epistemic position, even when the outcome of the process is not a true explanation. In other words, it could be that accurate explanations are beneficial, or it could be that high-quality explaining is beneficial, where there is something about the activity of looking for an explanation that improves our epistemic standing. The main goal of this paper is to tease apart these two possibilities, both theoretically and empirically, which we align with “Inference to the Best Explanation” and “Explaining for the Best Inference”, respectively. We also provide some initial support for EBI and identify promising directions for future research
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DOI 10.1007/s11191-015-9784-4
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References found in this work BETA

Two Dogmas of Empiricism.Willard V. O. Quine - 1951 - Philosophical Review 60 (1):20–43.
Making Things Happen. A Theory of Causal Explanation.Michael Strevens - 2007 - Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 74 (1):233-249.
Explanation and Scientific Understanding.Michael Friedman - 1974 - Journal of Philosophy 71 (1):5-19.

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Citations of this work BETA

Experiential Explanation.Sara Aronowitz & Tania Lombrozo - forthcoming - Topics in Cognitive Science.

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