Inference to the Best
Explanation
Types of explanation
• Teleological – the purpose of something
• Interpretative – the meaning of something
• Procedural – ...
Theoretical explanation
• Copper burns green because the
excitation of the electrons created by the
heat. The vibration at...
• So one might argue that we believe that
the atomic theory is true (even though we
don’t see atoms) because it offers the...
Inference to the best explanation
• Phenomenon Q
• E provides the best explanation for Q.
• Therefore E is probably true.
• What makes a theory good?
• How should we judge what is the best
explanation?
The minimum requirement
• Consistency
– Internal consistency – free of contradictions
– External consistency – consistent ...
Criteria of adequacy
• Testability
• Fruitfulness
• Scope
• Simplicity
• Conservatism
A theory should be testable
• It needs to be formulated in a way that it is
clear enough what a test would be
• It needs t...
Fruitfulness
• A theory should be useful in leading to
other explorations of the world. It
shouldn’t be a dead end.
• It i...
Scope
• A theory that explains a wider variety of
phenomena has a wider scope.
• Newton’s theory was able to explain
pheno...
Simplicity
• The simpler theory is the better theory.
• Copernican hypothesis vs. the Ptolemaic
theory.
Conservatism
• The theory that is most consistent with
previously held beliefs is the better theory.
• This is the problem...
Evaluating theories: The TEST
Formula
• State the Theory and check for
consistency
• Assess the Evidence for the theory
• ...
Upcoming SlideShare
Loading in …5
×

Chapter 9

239 views
161 views

Published on

Published in: Technology
0 Comments
0 Likes
Statistics
Notes
  • Be the first to comment

  • Be the first to like this

No Downloads
Views
Total views
239
On SlideShare
0
From Embeds
0
Number of Embeds
31
Actions
Shares
0
Downloads
3
Comments
0
Likes
0
Embeds 0
No embeds

No notes for slide

Chapter 9

  1. 1. Inference to the Best Explanation
  2. 2. Types of explanation • Teleological – the purpose of something • Interpretative – the meaning of something • Procedural – how something works • Theoretical explanation – theories or hypotheses explaining why something is the way it is – including causal explanations.
  3. 3. Theoretical explanation • Copper burns green because the excitation of the electrons created by the heat. The vibration at a particular frequency results in the emission of green light (light waves of that frequency). • Notice how this explanation makes reference to an overarching theory or hypothesis
  4. 4. • So one might argue that we believe that the atomic theory is true (even though we don’t see atoms) because it offers the best explanation of a wide variety of phenomena.
  5. 5. Inference to the best explanation • Phenomenon Q • E provides the best explanation for Q. • Therefore E is probably true.
  6. 6. • What makes a theory good? • How should we judge what is the best explanation?
  7. 7. The minimum requirement • Consistency – Internal consistency – free of contradictions – External consistency – consistent with the data it is supposed to explain
  8. 8. Criteria of adequacy • Testability • Fruitfulness • Scope • Simplicity • Conservatism
  9. 9. A theory should be testable • It needs to be formulated in a way that it is clear enough what a test would be • It needs to have empirical consequences that would show it was false if it were false (falsifiable).
  10. 10. Fruitfulness • A theory should be useful in leading to other explorations of the world. It shouldn’t be a dead end. • It is a better theory if it predicts previously unknown phenomena.
  11. 11. Scope • A theory that explains a wider variety of phenomena has a wider scope. • Newton’s theory was able to explain phenomena in the heavens and on earth.
  12. 12. Simplicity • The simpler theory is the better theory. • Copernican hypothesis vs. the Ptolemaic theory.
  13. 13. Conservatism • The theory that is most consistent with previously held beliefs is the better theory. • This is the problem with most conspiracy theories.
  14. 14. Evaluating theories: The TEST Formula • State the Theory and check for consistency • Assess the Evidence for the theory • Scrutinize alternative theories • Test the theories with the criteria of adequacy

×