, Volume 157, Issue 3, pp 275-296
Date: 21 Oct 2006

Coherence measures and inference to the best explanation

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Abstract

This paper considers an application of work on probabilistic measures of coherence to inference to the best explanation (IBE). Rather than considering information reported from different sources, as is usually the case when discussing coherence measures, the approach adopted here is to use a coherence measure to rank competing explanations in terms of their coherence with a piece of evidence. By adopting such an approach IBE can be made more precise and so a major objection to this mode of reasoning can be addressed. Advantages of the coherence-based approach are pointed out by comparing it with several other ways to characterize ‘best explanation’ and showing that it takes into account their insights while overcoming some of their problems. The consequences of adopting this approach for IBE are discussed in the context of recent discussions about the relationship between IBE and Bayesianism.