Inference to the Best Explanation Made Incoherent

Journal of Philosophy 114 (5):251-273 (2017)
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Defenders of Inference to the Best Explanation claim that explanatory factors should play an important role in empirical inference. They disagree, however, about how exactly to formulate this role. In particular, they disagree about whether to formulate IBE as an inference rule for full beliefs or for degrees of belief, as well as how a rule for degrees of belief should relate to Bayesianism. In this essay I advance a new argument against non-Bayesian versions of IBE. My argument focuses on cases in which we are concerned with multiple levels of explanation of some phenomenon. I show that in many such cases, following IBE as an inference rule for full beliefs leads to deductively inconsistent beliefs, and following IBE as a non-Bayesian updating rule for degrees of belief leads to probabilistically incoherent degrees of belief.

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Nevin Climenhaga
Australian Catholic University

Citations of this work

The structure of epistemic probabilities.Nevin Climenhaga - 2020 - Philosophical Studies 177 (11):3213-3242.
The art of abduction.Igor Douven - 2022 - Cambridge, Massachusetts: Massachusetts Institute of Technology Press.
How Explanation Guides Confirmation.Nevin Climenhaga - 2017 - Philosophy of Science 84 (2):359-68.

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References found in this work

Laws and symmetry.Bas C. Van Fraassen - 1989 - New York: Oxford University Press.
Inference to the Best Explanation.Peter Lipton - 1991 - London and New York: Routledge/Taylor and Francis Group.
The inference to the best explanation.Gilbert H. Harman - 1965 - Philosophical Review 74 (1):88-95.

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