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Theism and Explanation 6: Inference to the Best Explanation


6.1 Induction and Abduction
6.2 The Best Explanation

Dawes spends some time setting up his final blow. He looks at Swinburne’s arguments in The Existence of God and says that they are not really inductive, but abductive. They follow the form (sort of):

(1) The surprising fact, E, is observed.
(2) H would be a satisfactory explanation of E.
(3) No available competing hypothesis would E as well as H does.
(4) It is reasonable to accept the best available potential explanation of
any fact, provided that explanation is a satisfactory one.
(5) Therefore it is reasonable to accept H.

He then in 6.2 considers what a best explanation is, and what is acceptable. He says that a hypothesis need not be over the .5 probability level to be accepted, when accepted means to use as a working pragmatic assumption. Even if it is probably not true, we can still accept it.

Dawes then sets up his explanatory virtues, saying that they work, and that’s why they are virtues. I never like it when people get down to the base and say that some things are just foundational truth, but I suppose there’s not much way we can deny it. looking forward to the next chapter!

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