What science is all about — Inference to the Best Explanation

6 March, 2014 at 11:08 | Posted in Theory of Science & Methodology | 1 Comment


And if you want to know more on science and inference, the one book you should read is Peter Lipton‘s Inference to the Best Explanation (2nd ed, Routledge, 2004). A truly great book that has influenced my own scientific thinking tremendously.

If you’re looking for a more comprehensive bibliography on Inference to the Best Explanation, Lord Keynes has a good one here. [And for those who read Swedish, I self-indulgently recommend this.]


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  1. Inference to the best explanation requires substantial knowledge which if inferred in turn by best explanation leads to circularity. Example: we saw a Swedish man on a street in Rome and we concerned where he came from. We make the following inference:

    1. All people in a particular address in Rome are known to be Swedish (rule)
    2. The man we saw is Swedish and was walking near that address (observation)
    3. The man we saw lives at that address in Rome (Fact or explanation)

    To reach such explanation we need the observation and the rule. However, the problem is that the rule also demands such explanation.

    In other words, there can be no inference without predetermined rules and these rules cannot be determined by ITBE otherwise we are in circular reasoning.

    P.S. The accent in the video was terrible and so saw the superficial treatment of the subject.

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