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The Heuristic Conception of Inference to the Best Explanation

Dellsén, Finnur (2018) The Heuristic Conception of Inference to the Best Explanation. [Preprint]

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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.

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Item Type: Preprint
Dellsén, Finnurfinnurd@gmail.com0000-0003-4989-4204
Additional Information: Published in Philosophical Studies.
Keywords: Inference to the best explanation; Bayesianism; inferential heuristics; absolute versus comparative probabilities; working hypotheses
Subjects: General Issues > Confirmation/Induction
Depositing User: Dr. Finnur Dellsén
Date Deposited: 02 Jan 2019 00:16
Last Modified: 02 Jan 2019 00:16
Item ID: 15533
Official URL:
DOI or Unique Handle: 10.1007/s11098-017-0933-2
Subjects: General Issues > Confirmation/Induction
Date: 2018

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