Advertisement

Synthese

, Volume 192, Issue 12, pp 3877–3913 | Cite as

On the role of explanatory and systematic power in scientific reasoning

  • Peter BrösselEmail author
S.I. : Understanding Through Modeling

Abstract

The paper investigates measures of explanatory power and how to define the inference schema “Inference to the Best Explanation” (IBE). It argues that these measures can also be used to quantify the systematic power of a hypothesis and defines the inference schema “Inference to the Best Systematization” (IBS). It demonstrates that systematic power is a fruitful criterion for theory choice and that IBS is truth-conducive. It also shows that even radical Bayesians must admit that systematic power is an integral component of Bayesian reasoning. Finally, the paper puts the achieved results in perspective with van Fraassen’s famous criticism of IBE.

Notes

Acknowledgments

I am indebted to Ralf Busse, Vincenzo Crupi, Markus Eronen, Branden Fitelson (for making me aware of the Harman (1967) paper), Albert Newen, Gerhard Schurz (and the members of his research colloquium), and especially Matteo Colombo, Anna-Maria A. Eder, Jan Sprenger, and Ben Young. Finally, I am also grateful to two (very challenging) referees of this journal.

References

  1. Belot, G. (2013). Bayesian orgulity. Philosophy of Science, 80, 483–503.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Brössel, P. (2012). Rethinking Bayesian confirmation theory—Steps towards a a new Bayesian theory of confirmation. PhD-thesis, University of Konstanz.Google Scholar
  3. Brössel, P. (2008). Theory assessment and coherence. Abstracta, 4, 57–71.Google Scholar
  4. Brössel, P. (2014). Assessing theories: The coherentist approach. Erkenntnis, 79, 593–623.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Brössel, P. (2015). Keynes’s coefficient of dependence revisited. Erkenntnis, 80, 521–553.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Brössel, P., & Eder, A.-M. A. (2014). How to resolve doxastic disagreement. Synthese, 191, 2359–2381.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Carnap, R. (1950). Empiricism, semantics, and ontology. Revue Inter-nationale de Philosophie, 4, 20–40. Reprinted in the Supplement to Carnap, R. (1956). Meaning and necessity: A study in semantics and modal logic. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.Google Scholar
  8. Crupi, V. (2013). Confirmation. In E. Zalta (Ed.), The Stanford encyclopedia of philosophy. http://plato.stanford.edu/archives/win2013/entries/confirmation/.
  9. Crupi, V., et al. (2007). On Bayesian measures of evidential support: Theoretical and empirical issues. Philosophy of Science, 74, 229–252.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Crupi, V., & Tentori, K. (2012). A second look at the logic of explanatory power (with two novel representation theorems). Philosophy of Science, 79, 365–385.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Darwin, C. (1872). The origin of species by means of natural selection, or the preservation of favoured races in the struggle for life (6th ed.). London: John Murray.Google Scholar
  12. Douven, I. (2011). Abduction. In E. Zalta (Ed.), The Stanford encyclopedia of philosophy (Spring 2011 Edition). http://plato.stanford.edu/archives/spr2011/entries/abduction/.
  13. Earman, J. (1992). Bayes or bust? A critical examination of Bayesian confirmation theory. Cambridge: MIT Press.Google Scholar
  14. Friedman, M. (2002). Kant, Kuhn, and the rationality of science. Philosophy of Science, 69, 171–190.Google Scholar
  15. Gaifman, H., & Snir, M. (1982). Probabilities over rich languages, testing, and randomness. Journal of Symbolic Logic, 47, 495–548.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Good, I. (1960). Weight of evidence, corroboration, explanatory power, information and the utility of experiments. Journal of The Royal Statistical Society. Series B (Methodological), 22, 319–331.Google Scholar
  17. Harman, G. (1965). The inference to the best explanation. Philosophical Review, 74, 88–95.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Harman, G. (1967). Detachment, probability, and maximum likelihood. Noûs, 1, 401–411.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Hawthorne, J. (2014). Inductive logic. In E. Zalta (Ed.), The Stanford encyclopedia of philosophy (Summer 2014 Edition). http://plato.stanford.edu/archives/sum2014/entries/logic-inductive/.
  20. Hempel, C. (1958). The theoretician’s dilemma. In H. Feigl, M. Scriven, & G. Maxwell (Eds.), Minnesota studies in the philosophy of science (Vol. 2). Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press.Google Scholar
  21. Hempel, C. (1960). Inductive inconsistencies. Synthese, 12, 439–469.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Hempel, C., & Oppenheim, P. (1948). Studies in the logic of explanation. In C. Hempel (Ed.), Aspects of scientific explanation and other essays in the philosophie of science (pp. 245–291). New York: Free Press. (1965).Google Scholar
  23. Horwich, P. (1982). Probability and evidence. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  24. Howson, C. (2003). Hume’s problem. Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  25. Huber, F. (2008). Assessing theories, Bayes’ style. Synthese, 161, 89–118.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Huttegger, S. (2015a). Merging of opinions and probability kinematics. Review of Symbolic Logic (Accepted).Google Scholar
  27. Huttegger, S. (2015b). Bayesian convergence to the truth and the metaphysics of possible worlds. Philosophy of Science (Accepted).Google Scholar
  28. Jeffrey, R. (1956). Valuation and acceptance of scientific hypotheses. Philosophy of Science, 23, 237–246.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Jeffrey, R. (1992). Radical probabilism (prospectus for a user’s manual). Philosophical Issues, 2, 193–204.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Kemeny, J., & Oppenheim, P. (1952). Degree of factual support. Philosophy of Science, 19, 307–324.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Keynes, J. (1921). A treatise on probability. London: Macmillan.Google Scholar
  32. Kolmogorov, A. (1933). Grundbegriffe der Wahrscheinlichkeitsrechnung. Berlin: Julius Springer.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Levi, I. (1967). Gambling with truth. New York: A. A. Knopf.Google Scholar
  34. Lewis, D. (1973). Counterfactuals. Harvard: Harvard University of Press.Google Scholar
  35. McMullin, E. (1992). The inference that makes science. Milwaukee: Marquette University Press.Google Scholar
  36. Milne, P. (1996). \(log[p(h/eb)/p(h/b)]\) is the one true measure of confirmation. Philosophy of Science, 63, 21–26.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. Newton, I. (1729). The mathematical principles of natural philosophy (A. Motte, Trans.). New York: Daniel Adler.Google Scholar
  38. Niiniluoto, I. (2011). Scientific progress. In E. Zalta (Ed.), The Stanford encyclopedia of philosophy (Summer 2011 Edition). http://plato.stanford.edu/archives/sum2011/entries/scientific-progress/.
  39. Okasha, S. (2000). Van Fraassen’s critique of inference to the best explanation. Studies in History and Philosophy of Science, 31, 691–710.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. Popper, K. (1959). The logic of scientific discovery. London: Hutchinson.Google Scholar
  41. Psillos, S. (1996). On van Fraassen’s critique of abductive reasoning. The Philosophical Quarterly, 46, 31–47.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  42. Rescher, N. (2005). Studies in pragmatism. Heusenstamm: Ontos.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  43. Schervish, M., & Seidenfeld, T. (1990). An approach to consensus and certainty with increasing evidence. Journal of Statistical Planning and Inference, 25, 401–414.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  44. Schupbach, J. (2011). Comparing probabilistic measures of explanatory power. Philosophy of Science, 78, 813–829.Google Scholar
  45. Schupbach, J. (2014). Is the bad lot objection just misguided? Erkenntnis, 79, 55–64.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  46. Schupbach, J., & Sprenger, J. (2011). The logic of explanatory power. Philosophy of Science, 78, 105–127.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  47. van Fraassen, B. (1980). The scientific image. Oxford: Oxford University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  48. van Fraassen, B. (1989). Laws and symmetry. Oxford: Oxford University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  49. Vogel, J. (1990). Cartesian skepticism and inference to the best explanation. Journal of Philosophy, 87, 658–666.Google Scholar
  50. Weisberg, J. (2009). Locating IBE in the Bayesian framework. Synthese, 167, 125–143.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Philosophy and Center for Mind, Brain, and Cognitive EvolutionRuhr-University BochumBochumGermany

Personalised recommendations