Locating IBE in the Bayesian Framework

Synthese 167 (1):125-143 (2009)
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Abstract

Inference to the Best Explanation (IBE) and Bayesianism are our two most prominent theories of scientific inference. Are they compatible? Van Fraassen famously argued that they are not, concluding that IBE must be wrong since Bayesianism is right. Writers since then, from both the Bayesian and explanationist camps, have usually considered van Fraassen’s argument to be misguided, and have plumped for the view that Bayesianism and IBE are actually compatible. I argue that van Fraassen’s argument is actually not so misguided, and that it causes more trouble for compatibilists than is typically thought. Bayesianism in its dominant, subjectivist form, can only be made compatible with IBE if IBE is made subservient to conditionalization in a way that robs IBE of much of its substance and interest. If Bayesianism and IBE are to be fit together, I argue, a strongly objective Bayesianism is the preferred option. I go on to sketch this objectivist, IBE-based Bayesianism, and offer some preliminary suggestions for its development.

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Author's Profile

Jonathan Weisberg
University of Toronto, Mississauga

References found in this work

Counterfactuals.David K. Lewis - 1973 - Malden, Mass.: Blackwell.
Fact, Fiction, and Forecast.Nelson Goodman - 1965 - Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press.
Logical foundations of probability.Rudolf Carnap - 1950 - Chicago]: Chicago University of Chicago Press.
Laws and symmetry.Bas C. van Fraassen - 1989 - New York: Oxford University Press.
What is a Law of Nature?D. M. Armstrong - 1983 - New York: Cambridge University Press. Edited by Sydney Shoemaker.

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