, 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


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.



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.


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© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2015

Authors and Affiliations

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

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