Crítica, Revista Hispanoamericana de Filosofía, Volume 33, number 98, agosto 2001
Bad Lots, Good Explanations
[Malos lotes, buenas explicaciones]
Valeriano Iranzo

Abstract: Van Fraassen's argument from the "bad lot" challenges realist interpretations of inference to the best explanation (IBE). In this paper I begin by discussing the replies suggested by S. Psillos and P. Lipton. I do not find them convincing. However, I think that van Fraassen's argument is flawed. First of all, it is a non sequitur. Secondly, I think that the real target for the scientific realist is the underlying assumption that epistemic justification results from a comparative assessment among rival explanations. I argue that justification for believing an explanation does not depend on comparison, but on the extent that criteria of explanatory goodness are fulfilled. Therefore, in addition to offering more or less intuitive IBE-tailored arguments, realists fond of IBE should have to analyze the implicit standards of explanatory goodness. In the last section I distinguish between contextual and transcontextual criteria concerning explanatory goodness. Concerning the latter, I focus on consilience, simplicity, analogy and conservatism.
Keywords: inference to the best explanation, van Fraassen, scientific realism

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