Explanations and Inference
- Even though an explanation is not an argument, an explanation
can be part of an argumenta powerful inductive argument known as
inference to the best explanation.
- In inference to the best explanation, we reason from premises
about a state of affairs to an explanation for that state of affairs.
Theories and Consistency
- To be worthy of consideration, a theory must meet the minimum
requirement for consistency.
Theories and Criteria
- We use the criteria of adequacy to judge the plausibility of a
theory in relation to competing theories.
- The best theory is the one that meets the criteria of adequacy
better than any of its competitors.
- The criteria of adequacy are testability (whether there is some
way to determine if a theory is true), fruitfulness (the number of novel
predictions made), scope (the amount of diverse phenomena explained),
simplicity (the number of assumptions made), and conservatism (how well a
theory fits with existing knowledge).
Telling Good Theories from Bad
- Judging the worth of a theory is a four-step process called the
TEST formula: (1) Stating the theory and checking for consistency, (2)
assessing the evidence for the theory, (3) scrutinizing alternative
theories, and (4) testing the theories with the criteria of adequacy.