lecture 18 - Logic and reasoning [18] Nov. 7 Chapter 9:...

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Logic and reasoning [18] Nov. 7 Chapter 9: Inference to the best explanation (episode 2)
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Why care about explanations? that something is the case why something is the case explanations understanding of the world 2
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Types of explanations Teleological Interpretive Procedural Theoretical 3
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Types of explanations Theoretical Answers to a ‘why-question’ by advancing a theory (= statement(s)), usually of causal nature. Why do heavy objects fall toward the Earth? T1 (Aristotle) : Like all things, they tend to move toward their natural place. T2 (Newton): All objects attract each other through gravitation, but the Earth is very heavy comparatively, so they go toward the Earth (…but the Earth ‘falls’ toward them as well!) 4
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Arguments Explanations …Explanations can be parts of arguments Inference to the best explanation (IBE ) Phenomenon Q is observed. E is the best explanation of Q. Therefore, E is probably true. Jones’ fingerprints were found at the scene of the crime. The best explanation of this is that Jones committed it. So Jones is guilty. 5
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IBE – two issues to haunt us 1. Goes beyond evidence 2. ‘Best’ …from what perspective? criteria? Comparative, not absolute term: - best…compared to what? 6
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Theories offer explanations… Assessing theories = assessing explanations Most important: a theory must be consistent - Internally - Externally 7
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Theories offer explanations… Assessing theories = assessing explanations Most important: a theory must be consistent - Internally = no contradictions can be derived from the theory 8
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Theories offer explanations… Assessing theories = assessing explanations Most important: a theory must be consistent - Externally = all available data (observations, phenomena) are accounted by the theory 9
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Theory-choice Five criteria 1.Testability 2.Fruitfulness 3.Scope 4.Simplicity 5.Conservatism 10
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T-choice: testability Testable = there is a way to say whether the theory / explanation is true or false Example: Phenomenon: The car doesn’t start.
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lecture 18 - Logic and reasoning [18] Nov. 7 Chapter 9:...

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