more from Peter Lipton

Single Idea 16852

[catalogued under 14. Science / D. Explanation / 3. Best Explanation / c. Against best explanation]

Full Idea

Inference to the best explanation cannot be epistemically effective, since an actual explanation must be true, so one would have to know the truth before one could infer an explanation.

Gist of Idea

Best explanation can't be a guide to truth, because the truth must precede explanation


Peter Lipton (Inference to the Best Explanation (2nd) [2004], 09 'Voltaire's')

Book Reference

Lipton,Peter: 'Inference to the Best Explanation (2nd ed)' [Routledge 2004], p.147

A Reaction

Lipton rests on 'contrastive' explanation, so that the one that explains more is more likely to be true. If true, it explains. That seems to me correct, even though it could occasionally go horribly wrong. Approach explanation cautiously.