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Scientific Reasoning Is Material Inference: Combining Confirmation, Discovery, and Explanation

International Studies in the Philosophy of Science, Vol. 24, pp. 31-43, 2010

23 Pages Posted: 17 Aug 2009 Last revised: 29 Dec 2015

Ingo Brigandt

University of Alberta - Department of Philosophy

Date Written: August 17, 2009

Abstract

Whereas an inference (deductive as well as inductive) is usually viewed as being valid in virtue of its argument form, the present paper argues that scientific reasoning is material inference, i.e., justified in virtue of its content. A material inference is licensed by the empirical content embodied in the concepts contained in the premisses and conclusion. Understanding scientific reasoning as material inference has the advantage of combining different aspects of scientific reasoning, such as confirmation, discovery, and explanation. This approach explains why these different aspects (including discovery) can be rational without conforming to formal schemes, and why scientific reasoning is local, i.e., justified only in certain domains and contingent on particular empirical facts. The notion of material inference also fruitfully interacts with accounts of conceptual change and psychological theories of concepts.

Suggested Citation

Brigandt, Ingo, Scientific Reasoning Is Material Inference: Combining Confirmation, Discovery, and Explanation (August 17, 2009). International Studies in the Philosophy of Science, Vol. 24, pp. 31-43, 2010. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1456413

Ingo Brigandt (Contact Author)

University of Alberta - Department of Philosophy ( email )

2-40 Assiniboia Hall
University of Alberta
Edmonton, Alberta T6G 2E7
Canada

HOME PAGE: http://www.ualberta.ca/~brigandt

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