Propensities and frequencies: Inference to the best explanation

Synthese 132 (1-2):27 - 61 (2002)
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Abstract

An approach to inference to the best explanation integrating a Popperianconception of natural laws together with a modified Hempelian account of explanation, one the one hand, and Hacking's law of likelihood (in its nomicguise), on the other, which provides a robust abductivist model of sciencethat appears to overcome the obstacles that confront its inductivist,deductivist, and hypothetico-deductivist alternatives.This philosophy of scienceclarifies and illuminates some fundamental aspects of ontology and epistemology, especially concerning the relations between frequencies and propensities. Among the most important elements of this conception is thecentral role of degrees of nomic expectability in explanation, prediction,and inference, for which this investigation provides a theoretical defense.

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