Inferentialism, degrees of commitment, and ampliative reasoning

Synthese:1-19 (forthcoming)
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Abstract

Our purpose in this paper is to contribute to a practice-based characterization of scientific inference. We want to explore whether Brandom’s pragmatist–inferentialist framework can suitably accommodate several types of ampliative inference common in scientific reasoning and explanation. First, we argue that Brandom’s view of induction in terms of merely permissive inferences is inadequate; in order to overcome the shortcoming of Brandom’s proposal, we put forward an alternative conception of inductive, probabilistic reasoning by appeal to the notion of degrees of commitment. Moreover, we examine the sorts of inferential commitments operative in other types of ampliative inferences, such as abduction or reasoning involving idealizations and assumptions. We suggest that agents engaging in these forms of reasoning often undertake restricted inferential commitments, whose scope and reach are more limited that in the case of the commitments associated with full beliefs.

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References found in this work

How the Laws of Physics Lie.Nancy Cartwright - 1983 - Oxford, England: Oxford University Press.
Logical Foundations of Probability.Rudolf Carnap - 1950 - Chicago, IL, USA: Chicago University of Chicago Press.
Ethics Without Principles.Jonathan Dancy - 2004 - Oxford University Press.
Nature's Capacities and Their Measurement.Nancy Cartwright - 1989 - Oxford, England: Oxford University Press.

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