Bayesianism and inference to the best explanation

Valeriano IRANZO

Abstract


Bayesianism and Inference to the best explanation (IBE) are two different models of inference. Recently there has been some debate about the possibility of “bayesianizing” IBE. Firstly I explore several alternatives to include explanatory considerations in Bayes’s Theorem. Then I distinguish two different interpretations of prior probabilities: “IBE-Bayesianism” (IBE-Bay) and “frequentist-Bayesianism” (Freq-Bay). After detailing the content of the latter, I propose a rule for assessing the priors. I also argue that Freq-Bay: (i) endorses a role for explanatory value in the assessment of scientific hypotheses; (ii) avoids a purely subjectivist reading of prior probabilities; and (iii) fits better than IBE-Bayesianism with two basic facts about science, i.e., the prominent role played by empirical testing and the existence of many scientific theories in the past that failed to fulfil their promises and were subsequently abandoned.

Keywords


Bayesian epistemology, inference to the best explanation, confirmation, frequentism, prior probability, explanatory value.

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DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1387/theoria.11

 

 

 

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