Munich Center for Mathematical Philosophy (MCMP)

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Workshop: Inferentialism, Bayesianism, and Scientific Explanation (25 - 26 January 2017)

Idea and Motivation

What makes a given explanation successful? Many philosophers of science have tried to answer this question, but there is no consensus answer. In this workshop, we will assess the prospects of taking a novel approach to answering this question. Specifically, we will discuss whether and how an inferentialist account of explanation can be combined with Bayesian resources to deliver an adequate account of scientific explanation. This involves assessing not only whether the inferentialist can capture aspects of explanation that are often thought to resist Bayesian treatment (e.g., Inference to the Best Explanation and the asymmetry of explanation), but also whether inferentialism avoids problems that are thought to plague ontic accounts of explanation (e.g., an untenable insensitivity to contextual and pragmatic factors). Since it may not be entirely clear what the commitments of the inferentialist are in the context of scientific explanation, we likewise hope to consider what exactly it means to be an inferentialist about explanation.


The workshop is organized by Lorenzo Casini (Geneva/MCMP), Stephan Hartmann (LMU/MCMP), Reuben Stern (LMU/MCMP) and Marcel Weber (Geneva).


  • Lorenzo Casini
  • Igor Douven
  • Ben Eva
  • Julian Reiss
  • Alexander Reutlinger
  • Jan Sprenger
  • Reuben Stern
  • John Williamson


Day 1 (25 January 2017)

09:15 - 09:45 Registration
09:45 - 10:00 Welcome and Opening
10:00 - 11:00 Jon Williamson: "Inferentialism and Causal Explanation"
11:00 - 12:00 Julian Reiss: "The Goodness of a Causal Explanation"
12:00 - 13:30 Lunch
13:30 - 14:30 Reuben Stern: "Causation, Explanation, and Context"
14:30 - 15:30 Ben Eva and Reuben Stern: "Causal Explanatory Strength"
15:30 - 16:00 Coffee Break
16:00 - 17:00 Jan Sprenger: "Stalnaker's Hypothesis: A Causal Account"
17:00 - 18:00 Lorenzo Casini and Radin Dardashti: "Confirmation by Robustness
Analysis: A Bayesian Account"
20:00 Conference Dinner

Day 2 (26 January 2017)

10:00 - 11:00 Alex Reutlinger: "Is the Counterfactual Theory of Explanation an
Epistemic Account?"
11:00 - 12:00 Carsten Held: "The Counterfactual Theory of Explanation and
Explanatory Asymmetry"
12:00 - 13:30 Lunch
13:30 - 14:30 Jared Millson, Kareem Khalifa, and Mark Risjord: "Explanatory
Asymmetry and Inferentialist Expressivism"
14:30 - 15:30 Borut Trpin and Max Pellert: "Inference to the Best Explanation in
Cases of Uncertain Evidence"
15:30 - 16:00 Coffee Break
16:00 - 17:00 Igor Douven: "Inference to the Best Explanation and the Relevance
of the Closest Competitor"



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