Inference to the best explanation and epistemic circularity

Carter, J. A. and Pritchard, D. (2017) Inference to the best explanation and epistemic circularity. In: McCain, K. and Poston, T. (eds.) Best Explanations: New Essays on Inference to the Best Explanation. Oxford University Press: Oxford. ISBN 9780198746904

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Abstract

Inference to the best explanation—or, IBE—tells us to infer from the available evidence to the hypothesis which would, if correct, best explain that evidence. As Peter Lipton (2000, 184) puts it, the core idea driving IBE is that explanatory considerations are a guide to inference. But what is the epistemic status of IBE, itself? One issue of contemporary interest (e.g., Boyd 1985; Psillos 1999; Boghossian 2001; Enoch & Schechter 2008) is whether it is possible to provide a justification for IBE itself which is non- objectionably circular. We aim to carve out some new space in this debate. In particular, we suggest that the matter of whether a given rule-circular argument is objectionably circular itself depends crucially on some subtle distinctions which have been made in the recent literature on perceptual warrant. By bringing these debates together, a principled reason emerges for why some kinds of rule-circular justifications for IBE are considerably less objectionable than others.

Item Type:Book Sections
Status:Published
Glasgow Author(s) Enlighten ID:Carter, Dr Joseph
Authors: Carter, J. A., and Pritchard, D.
Subjects:B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > B Philosophy (General)
College/School:College of Arts > School of Humanities > Philosophy
Publisher:Oxford University Press
ISBN:9780198746904
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