samedi 24 septembre 2016

Against abduction

Abduction (or "inference to the best explanation") is the cornerstone of scientific realism. There are always many different theories, or hypothesis that could account for some given phenomena, but scientists make their choice on the basis of non-empirical criteria, such as simplicity: they choose the best explanation. According to a realist, this means one likely to be true. This, in essence, is abductive reasoning: an inference from non-empirical, explanatory virtues to truth, or to likelihood. Furthermore, the realist claims that her position, that our best scientific theories are approximately true, is itself the best explanation to their predictive success. That's what we could call a meta-abduction: a justification of abduction (best explanations are true) by means of abduction (that best explains their success, so it's true). So it's clear that abduction is essential to realism, perhaps its definite characteristic. But is abduction a valid form of inference?

samedi 3 septembre 2016

Is empirical success a miracle?

In the previous post, I detailed my conception of empirical adequacy: a theory is empirically adequate if for every model of the theory, for all situations to which the model would apply, the model would make correct predictions. Depending on the range of situation we consider (situations actually experimented, actual situations we could experiment in principle...) on can derive different versions of empiricism. Modal empiricism is the view that our theories are empirically adequate for all possible situations.

In this post, I would like to explain why modal empiricism can respond to the no-miracle argument for scientific realism, and why it is not threatened by a meta-induction argument. But before that, we must examine the different kinds of induction that are involved in our definition.