Journal for General Philosophy of Science

, Volume 48, Issue 4, pp 581–590 | Cite as

Is Explanatoriness a Guide to Confirmation? A Reply to Climenhaga



We (2013, 2014) argued that explanatoriness is evidentially irrelevant in the following sense: Let H be a hypothesis, O an observation, and E the proposition that H would explain O if H and O were true. Then our claim is that Pr(H | O & E) = Pr(H | O). We defended this screening-off thesis (SOT) by discussing an example concerning smoking and cancer. Climenhaga (Philos Sci, forthcoming) argues that SOT is mistaken because it delivers the wrong verdict about a slightly different smoking-and-cancer case. He also considers a variant of SOT, called “SOT*”, and contends that it too gives the wrong result. We here reply to Climenhaga’s arguments and suggest that SOT provides a criticism of the widely held theory of inference called “inference to the best explanation”.


Bayesianism Climenhaga Confirmation Explanatoriness Inference to the best explanation Screening-off 



Thanks to an anonymous referee for a helpful comment on a prior version of the paper.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of PhilosophyTexas Christian UniversityFort WorthUSA
  2. 2.Department of PhilosophyUniversity of Wisconsin, MadisonMadisonUSA

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