The Heuristic Conception of Inference to the Best Explanation

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Title: The Heuristic Conception of Inference to the Best Explanation
Authors: Dellsén, Finnur
Permanent link: http://hdl.handle.net/10197/8778
Date: 24-May-2017
Abstract: An influential suggestion about the relationship between Bayesianism and inference to the best explanation (IBE) holds that IBE functions as a heuristic to approximate Bayesian reasoning. While this view promises to unify Bayesianism and IBE in a very attractive manner, important elements of the view have not yet been spelled out in detail. I present and argue for a heuristic conception of IBE on which IBE serves primarily to locate the most probable available explanatory hypothesis to serve as a working hypothesis in an agent’s further investigations. Along the way, I criticize what I consider to be an overly ambitious conception of the heuristic role of IBE, according to which IBE serves as a guide to absolute probability values. My own conception, by contrast, requires only that IBE can function as a guide to the comparative probability values of available hypotheses. This is shown to be a much more realistic role for IBE given the nature and limitations of the explanatory considerations with which IBE operates.
Type of material: Journal Article
Publisher: Springer
Keywords: Inference to the best explanation;Bayesianism;Inferential heuristics;Absolute versus comparative probabilities;Working hypotheses
DOI: 10.1007/s11098-017-0933-2
Language: en
Status of Item: Peer reviewed
Appears in Collections:Philosophy Research Collection

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