Surprise, inaccuracy, and explanation
Abstract. This paper proposes a measure of explanatory demand formulated in terms of inaccuracy. The concept of explanation plays significant roles in epistemology and philosophy of science, but it is also known for serious problems and controversies. In this paper I take a step back and investigate the notion of explanatory demand by way of surprise. The measure identifies unexpected inaccuracy as the reason for surprise, and relates it to explanatory demand: A surprising outcome calls for an explanation and prompts an inquiry, while a good explanation puts an end to the inquiry. The paper also compares this analysis of explanatory demand with a recent proposal of measuring explanatory power by reduction in surprise, where the degree of surprise is measured probabilistically. The analysis I propose is part of a broader shift in focus in epistemic evaluation from probability to accuracy, viz. a theory receives a high mark for its (estimated) accuracy, or closeness to the truth, even if the probability of its truth is low.
Joint LLC & Labont Seminar
TOPOI Conference 2018
11th Munich-Sidney-Tilburg/Turin (MuST) Conference
Ultimo aggiornamento: 10/05/2018 10:24