Logique Et Analyse 255:267-273 (2021)

Authors
Michael Shaffer
Gustavus Adolphus College
Abstract
Van Fraassen’s (1989) infamous best of a bad lot objection is widely taken to be the most serious problem that afflicts theories of inference to the best explanation (IBE), for it alleges to show that we should not accept the conclusion of any case of such reasoning as it actually proceeds. Moreover, this is supposed to be the case irrespective of the details of the particular criteria used to select best explanations. The best of a bad lot objection is predicated on, and really only requires, the idea that in any real case of IBE where one hypothesis is favored as best over those with which it competes, it is always the case that it is more likely that the true explanation is to be found in the set of unformulated and unconsidered logical alternatives to the set of actually considered hypotheses. On this basis, Van Fraassen believes that accepting the conclusion of IBEs so understood is irrational and this is simply because such inferences are supposedly not probative. In this paper the best of a bad lot objection will be addressed and it will be shown that Van Fraassen’s notorious criticism of IBE depends on a problematic conflation of two notions of rationality and thus that his criticism of IBE involves a damning equivocation. In essence, he conflates ideal standards of rationality with epistemic standards of rationality and, in so doing, makes it appear to be the case that we should not accept the conclusions of IBEs. But, when we disambiguate the concepts of rationality at work in the argument Van Fraassen’s conclusion simply does not follow.
Keywords van Fraassen  Inference to the best explanation  explanation  rationality  constructive empiricsm  scientific realism
Categories (categorize this paper)
Options
Edit this record
Mark as duplicate
Export citation
Find it on Scholar
Request removal from index
Revision history

Download options

PhilArchive copy

 PhilArchive page | Other versions
External links

Setup an account with your affiliations in order to access resources via your University's proxy server
Configure custom proxy (use this if your affiliation does not provide a proxy)
Through your library

References found in this work BETA

The Scientific Image.William Demopoulos & Bas C. van Fraassen - 1982 - Philosophical Review 91 (4):603.
Laws and Symmetry.Bas C. van Fraassen - 1989 - Revue Philosophique de la France Et de l'Etranger 182 (3):327-329.
Scientific Realism.Jarrett Leplin (ed.) - 1984 - University of California.
Minimal Rationality.Christopher Cherniak - 1988 - Behaviorism 16 (1):89-92.

View all 8 references / Add more references

Citations of this work BETA

Add more citations

Similar books and articles

To Believe in Belief: Popper and Van Fraassen on Scientific Realism.Herman C. D. G. De Regt - 2006 - Journal for General Philosophy of Science / Zeitschrift für Allgemeine Wissenschaftstheorie 37 (1):21-39.
Explanation and the Theory of Questions.Charles B. Cross - 1991 - Erkenntnis 34 (2):237 - 260.
To Believe in Belief Popper and Van Fraassen on Scientific Realism.Herman C. D. G. de Regt - 2006 - Journal for General Philosophy of Science / Zeitschrift für Allgemeine Wissenschaftstheorie 37 (1):21-39.
Reactionary Responses to the Bad Lot Objection.Finnur Dellsén - 2017 - Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part A 61:32-40.
The Challenge of Scientific Revolutions: Van Fraassen's and Friedman's Responses.Vasso Kindi - 2011 - International Studies in the Philosophy of Science 25 (4):327-349.
The “Positive Argument” for Constructive Empiricism and Inference to the Best Explanation.Moti Mizrahi - 2018 - Journal for General Philosophy of Science / Zeitschrift für Allgemeine Wissenschaftstheorie 49 (3):461–466.

Analytics

Added to PP index
2021-05-03

Total views
103 ( #113,860 of 2,507,886 )

Recent downloads (6 months)
56 ( #14,765 of 2,507,886 )

How can I increase my downloads?

Downloads

My notes