Munich Center for Mathematical Philosophy (MCMP)

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Talk: David Colaço (MCMP)

Location: Ludwigstr. 31, ground floor, room 021

04.05.2022 16:00  – 18:00 


Inferences to the Explanandum


How should one’s judgment of a target of explanation be affected by the provision of an explanation for it? This talk addresses what I call inferences to the explanandum: inferences from the premise that an explanandum is plausibly explained to the conclusion that this explanandum (or a claim or representation thereof) is true or adequate. These inferences thus consist in moving from answering why or how something occurs to concluding that it occurs. In this talk, I argue that scientists and lay people often infer (or at least espouse) that an explanandum is more worthy of belief following an explanation for it. Further, I argue that they have a tendency to overestimate what they should infer about an explanandum from explaining. Even if explaining should inform one’s belief in its explanandum to some degree, there are problematic cases where inferring to the explanandum should provide little reason to change one’s belief. This conclusion stands in tension with the fact that scientists (and pseudoscientists) often propose explanations as strong support for controversial explananda.