Explanation and explanationism in science and metaphysics

In Matthew H. Slater & Zanja Yudell (eds.), Metaphysics and the Philosophy of Science: New Essays. New York, NY, USA: Oxford University Press (2017)
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Abstract

This chapter examines the status of inference to the best explanation in naturalistic metaphysics. The methodology of inference to the best explanation in metaphysics is studied from the perspective of contemporary views on scientific explanation and explanatory inferences in the history and philosophy of science. This reveals serious shortcomings in prevalent attempts to vindicate metaphysical "explanationism" by reference to similarities between science and naturalistic metaphysics. This critique is brought out by considering a common gambit of methodological unity: (1) Both metaphysics and science employ inference to the best explanation. (2) One has no reason to think that if explanationism is truth-conducive in science, it is not so in metaphysics. (3) One has a positive reason to think that if explanationism is truth-conducive in science, it is also so in metaphysics.

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Juha Saatsi
University of Leeds

Citations of this work

Simplicity as a criterion of theory choice in metaphysics.Andrew Brenner - 2017 - Philosophical Studies 174 (11):2687-2707.
Toying with the Toolbox: How Metaphysics Can Still Make a Contribution.Steven French - 2018 - Journal for General Philosophy of Science / Zeitschrift für Allgemeine Wissenschaftstheorie 49 (2):211-230.
In Defence of Armchair Expertise.Theodore Bach - 2019 - Theoria 85 (5):350-382.

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References found in this work

Writing the Book of the World.Theodore Sider - 2011 - Oxford, England: Oxford University Press.
On the Plurality of Worlds.David K. Lewis - 1986 - Malden, Mass.: Wiley-Blackwell.
Depth: An Account of Scientific Explanation.Michael Strevens - 2008 - Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press.
A World of States of Affairs.D. M. Armstrong - 1997 - New York: Cambridge University Press.

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