In Henk W. de Regt, Stephan Hartmann & Okasha Samir (eds.), EPSA Philosophy of Science: Amsterdam 2009 (2009)
In the present paper, we defend an inferential account both of explanation and scientific modelling. Our account is “comprehensive” in the sense that we assume a pragmatic perspective that tries to capture the intrinsic versatility scientific models and explanations may adopt in the course of scientific discourse. This inferential-pragmatic view is essentially inspired by the work of Robert Brandom in the philosophy of language (see Brandom 1994 and 2000), but takes elements from other authors, mainly from argumentation theory and epistemology. As many philosophers of science that favour an inferential perspective, we see scientific models as inferential tools that help to extract inferences about the target in relation to specific goals. In this sense, models can be understood as consisting of sets of interconnected commitments and inferential norms allowing us to explaining and predicting phenomena in a relevant way (we develop this in de Donato and Zamora-Bonilla 2009). Likewise, explanation can be seen as a particular form of speech act understood according to a pragmatic-inferential view that allows to capturing the versatility of explanation. This is our main goal in the present paper.