Content-type: text/html Downes.ca ~ Stephen's Web ~ Inference to the Best Explanation, Reflective Equilibrium, and Subjective Probability

Stephen Downes

Knowledge, Learning, Community

How do we come up with explanations for what we observe. In contemporary science, an explanation is based on a model, where this model serves as the best explanation for the phenomena. This presentation (12 page PDF) considers the question of model formation through inference to the best explanation (also known as 'abduction') and asks how this is connected to the idea of subjective probability or plausibility. There are different interpretations of subjective probability (for example, Ramsey defines it in terms of how much we would bet on an outcome) but these aren't really explored here. But the presentation does clearly map out both processes (ie., abduction and subjective probability) and lists six possible relations between the two. Why is this important? Well it shows that there isn't a direct link from observation to explanation. A lot happens in between, and we need to be clear about exactly how we've made the leap from what we observe to why we think it happened.

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Stephen Downes Stephen Downes, Casselman, Canada
stephen@downes.ca

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Last Updated: Jun 14, 2024 02:55 a.m.

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