The final frontier: Inference to the Best Explanation (IBE). “[The] primary issue in the defence of scientific realism is selective scepticism: epistemic discrimination against unobservables; unobservable rights” Michael Devitt (220).
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The final frontier: Inference to the Best Explanation (IBE)
“[The] primary issue in the defence of scientific realism is selective scepticism: epistemic discrimination against unobservables; unobservable rights”
Michael Devitt (220)
Constructive Empiricist: the explanatory power of a theory is pragmatic and not because the answer is compelled by the way the world is.
The realist, of course, claims the opposite. Successful theories explain because they are true or almost true. Their argument against constructive empiricism rests on the use of Inference to the best explanation in cases of unobservables.
Consider the following example using observables:
There is a constant running sound behind the walls
Bags containing food have been clawed open
There are mice behind the wall
Contrast the previous example with the following argument using unobservables:
1) Tracks in a cloud chamber
2) Electrical phenomena (i.e. electricity works!)
3) There are electrons.
What would be the realist’s position?
The realist would say that it is true that the mice and electrons exist.
What would van Fraassen say about these two examples?
van Fraassen might say that mice (observable) exist, but not electrons (unobservable)