The thesis of underdetermination presents a major obstacle to the epistemological claims of scientific realism. That thesis is regularly assumed in the philosophy of science, but is puzzlingly at odds with the actual history of science, in which empirically adequate theories are thin on the ground. We propose to advance a case for scientific realism which concentrates on the process of scientific reasoning rather than its theoretical products. Developing an account of causal–explanatory inference will make it easier to resist the (...) thesis of underdetermination. For, if we are not restricted to inference to the best explanation only at the level of major theories, we will be able to acknowledge that there is a structure in data sets which imposes serious constraints on possible theoretical alternatives. We describe how Differential Inference, a form of inference based on contrastive explanation, can be used in order to generate causal hypotheses. We then go on to consider how experimental manipulation of differences can be used to achieve Difference Closure, thereby confirming claims of causal efficacy and also eliminating possible confounds. The model of Differential Inference outlined here shows at least one way in which it is possible to ‘reason from the phenomena’. (shrink)
The approach that philosophers have taken to history has too often been one-dimensional. It is my aim in this paper to map out a future multi-dimensional philosophy of history, by invoking the notion of a relation with the past, and by arguing for the philosophical relevance of multiple such relations.
This chapter contains sections titled: What Is Historiographic Evidence? Bayesianism Bayesianism as a Model of Historiographic Reasoning Explanationism Towards an Explanationist Bayesianism Applications: Skepticism Applications: Underdetermination References Further Reading.
This is the definitive companion to the study of the philosophy of history. It provides an accessible and comprehensive introduction to all the major philosophical concepts, issues and debates raised by history. Ideal for undergraduate students in philosophy and history, the structure and content closely reflect the way the philosophy of history is studied and taught. -/- The book offers a lucid treatment of existing approaches to the philosophy of history and also breaks new ground by extending the major debates (...) in this area of growing philosophical interest. Subjects examined include: the centrality of historical language; objections to historical truth and realism; the relationship between the philosophy of history and the philosophy of science; historical interpretation and narrative; philosophical accounts of historical reasoning from the evidence. The text clearly presents and criticizes the arguments of the major philosophers and historians who have contributed to our understanding of the philosophy of history. -/- Mark Day's rigorous analysis is supplemented by useful pedagogical features, including key examples from historical and philosophical writing; summaries of core debates; study questions; and guides to further reading. (shrink)
Judgments of explanatory exclusion are a necessary part of the explanatory practice of any historian or social scientist. In this article, the author argues that all explanatory exclusion results from mutual explanatory incompatibility of some sort. Different types of exclusion arise primarily as a result of the different elements composing "an explanation." Of most philosophical interest are judgments of explanatory exclusion resulting from the incompatibility of explanatory relevance claims. The author demonstrates that an ontic theory of explanation is necessary to (...) make sense of this type of exclusion and in so doing develops an analysis similar to Jaegwon Kims well-known analysis of explanatory exclusion. To conclude, the author demonstrates the differences and connections between Kims analysis and his own. Key Words: explanation social science history exclusion compatibility. (shrink)
This is a welcome attempt to revive the largely moribund field of post‐analytic philosophy of history. Tucker wishes to make a clean break with previous debate concerning the essential form of historiography—in particular, whether historical explanation requires covering laws, singular causal claims, or narratives. Tucker's topic is rather the relation between present evidence and historiographical ‘hypotheses’. He asks whether such hypotheses are determined, underdetermined, or indetermined by the evidence. He argues that a large part of post‐Rankean historiography is determined by (...) the evidence, and should therefore be regarded as scientific. This historiographical development should be recognised as a significant achievement, indeed as a “third scientific revolution” (p. 260) (following Galileo and Newton). Some contemporary historiography is, however, underdetermined: this portion, together with all pre‐Rankean historiography, is ‘traditionalist historiography’. It makes no epistemic difference whether the historiographical hypotheses are straightforwardly descriptive, explanatory, narrative, or colligatory. (shrink)
Abductive reasoning is central to reconstructing the past in the geosciences. This paper outlines the nature of the abductive method and restates it in Bayesian terms. Evidence plays a key role in this working method and, in particular, traces of the past are important in this explanatory framework. Traces, whether singularly or as groups, are interpreted within the context of the event for which they have evidential claims. Traces are not considered as independent entities but rather as inter-related pieces of (...) information concerning the likelihood of specific events. Exemplification of the use of such traces is provided by dissecting an example of their use in the environmental reconstruction of mountain climate. (shrink)