Philosophy Dictionary of Arguments

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Best explanation: preference for one hypothesis over others. The choice can be done within a theory or result in the transition to another theory. See also explanation.
Annotation: The above characterizations of concepts are neither definitions nor exhausting presentations of problems related to them. Instead, they are intended to give a short introduction to the contributions below. – Lexicon of Arguments.

Author Concept Summary/Quotes Sources

John Bigelow on Best Explanation - Dictionary of Arguments

I 341
Best explanation/BE/Bigelow/Pargetter: behind it different kinds of realism are concealed. (> realism)
>Realism >Explanations.
I 344
Explanation/BE/Bigelow/Pargetter: if we accept the realism due to conclusions on the best explanation, we must ask what kind of explanation it is. It may e.g. be about various kinds of (Aristotelian) causes (see above). The most convincing are surely those which are concerned with "efficient" causes: e.g. Cartwright, Hacking:
Realism/Cartwright/Hacking: is best supported by causal explanations.
>Realism/Cartwright, >N. Cartwright, >Realism/Hacking, >I. Hacking.
Quine/Two Dogmas/Bigelow/Pargetter: Quine has caused many philosophers not only to stay in the armchair, but also to question the experiments that scientists have carried out in real terms. We reject this.
>Two Dogmas, >W.O.V. Quine.
Realism/Bigelow/Pargetter: but we also reject the other extreme that realism would have to arise solely from causal explanations.
>Causal explanations.
I 345
There can also be formal reasons (formal causes/Aristotle) for realism.
Modality/Bigelow/Pargetter: so it is also a legitimate question as to what modalities are constituted in science. Modal realism is the best explanation here for such matters.
>Modalities, >Modal realism.
Metaphysics/Platonism/Universals/Bigelow/Pargetter: can be supported by the best explanation: by means of conclusions on the best explanation we show that we need modalities and universals in the sciences.
>Universals, >Abduction.
Modality/Bigelow/Pargetter: their primary source is mathematics.
Mathematics/Bigelow/Pargetter: our metaphysics allows a realistic view of mathematics (BigelowVsField).

Explanation of symbols: Roman numerals indicate the source, arabic numerals indicate the page number. The corresponding books are indicated on the right hand side. ((s)…): Comment by the sender of the contribution. Translations: Dictionary of Arguments
The note [Concept/Author], [Author1]Vs[Author2] or [Author]Vs[term] resp. "problem:"/"solution:", "old:"/"new:" and "thesis:" is an addition from the Dictionary of Arguments. If a German edition is specified, the page numbers refer to this edition.

Big I
J. Bigelow, R. Pargetter
Science and Necessity Cambridge 1990

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Ed. Martin Schulz, access date 2024-02-27
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