Abduction - The Context of Discovery + Underdetermination = Inference to the Best Explanation
Synthese (Draft, Online first)
The relationship between Peircean abduction and the modern notion of Inference to the Best Explanation (IBE) is a matter of dispute. Some philosophers such as Harman and Lipton claim that abduction and IBE are virtually the same. Others, however, hold that they are quite different (e.g., Hintikka and Minnameier) and there is no link between them (Campos). In this paper, I argue that neither of these views is correct. I show that abduction and IBE have important similarities as well as differences. Moreover, by bringing a historical perspective to the study of the relationship between abduction and IBE—a perspective that is lacking in the literature—I show that their differences can be well understood in terms of two historic developments in the history of philosophy of science: first, Reichenbach’s distinction between the context of discovery and the context of justification—and the consequent jettisoning of the context of discovery from philosophy of science—and second, underdetermination of theory by data.
Beyond the Insight-Inference Dichotomy: A Unified Interpretation of Peirce’s Theory of Abduction
Transactions of the Charles S. Peirce Society (Draft, JSTOR, Project Muse)
I examine and resolve an exegetical dichotomy between two main interpretations of Peirce’s theory of abduction, namely, the Generative Interpretation and the Pursuitworthiness Interpretation. According to the former, abduction is the instinctive process of generating explanatory hypotheses through a mental faculty called insight. According to the latter, abduction is a rule-governed procedure for determining the relative pursuitworthiness of available hypotheses and adopting the worthiest one for further investigation—such as empirical tests—based on economic considerations. It is shown that the Generative Interpretation is inconsistent with a fundamental fact of logic for Peirce—i.e., abduction is a kind of inference—and the Pursuitworthiness Interpretation is flawed and inconsistent with Peirce’s naturalistic explanation for the possibility of science and his view about the limitations of classical scientific method. Changing the exegetical locus classicus from the logical form of abduction to insight and economy of research, I argue for the Unified Interpretation according to which abduction includes both instinctive hypotheses-generation and rule-governed hypotheses-ranking. I show that the Unified Interpretation is immune to the objections raised successfully against the Generative and the Pursuitworthiness interpretations.
If Consciousness Causes Collapse, the Zombie Argument Fails
Synthese (Draft, Online first)
Many non-physicalists, including Chalmers, hold that the zombie argument succeeds in rejecting the physicalist view of consciousness. Some non-physicalists, including, again, Chalmers, hold that quantum collapse interactionism (QCI), i.e., the idea that non-physical consciousness causes collapse of the wave function in phenomena such as quantum measurement, is a viable interactionist solution for the problem of the relationship between the physical world and the non-physical consciousness. In this paper, I argue that if QCI is true, the zombie argument fails. In particular, I show that if QCI is true, a zombie world physically identical to our world is impossible because there is at least one law of nature, a fundamental law of physics in particular, that exist only in the zombie world but not in our world. This shows that philosophers like Chalmers are committing an error in endorsing the zombie argument and QCI at the same time.
Avicenna’s Flying Man in Einstein’s Elevator
Under review; Accepted for APA 2020, Pacific Division - San Francisco
We read Avicenna’s Flying Man Though Experiment (FMTE) by employing the epistemological distinction between the outside observer and the inside observer in thought experiments, suggested by Einstein in his well-known elevator thought experiment. This allows us to make a distinction between these questions:
- Q1. What does the outside observer (i.e., us) understand from FMTE?
- Q2. What does the inside observer (i.e., the Flying Man (FM)) apprehend in FMTE?
An Armstrongian Defense of Dispositional Monist Accounts of Laws
Under review; Accepted for APA 2021, Eastern Division - New York City
Bird (2005) reveals an important problem at the heart of Armstrong’s theory of laws of nature: to explain how a law necessitates its corresponding regularity, Armstrong is committed to a vicious regress. In his very brief Reply to Bird (2005), Armstrong recognizes the strength of Bird’s argument and gestures towards a response that, as he admits, is more of a “speculation” than an argument. Later, Barker and Smart (2012) argue that a similar problem threatens Bird’s dispositional monist theory of laws of nature and he is committed to a similar vicious regress. In this paper, first, based on the “clues” that Armstrong provides in his reply to Bird, I construct his would-be argument in response to Bird. Second, I argue that Armstrong’s response makes his account of laws and natural properties incompatible with science. Finally, I argue that Armstrong’s strategy in addressing Bird’s criticism can be used, quite ironically, to defuse Barker and Smart’s argument against Bird.
Theoretical Virtues and "the Aim of Science"
I argue that the aim of science is producing theories with the highest possible degrees of all theoretical virtues (e.g., empirical fit, accuracy, predictive power, explanatory power, internal consistency, external consistency, simplicity, broad scope, unification, and fertility). I compare this proposal with Hempel’s view that some theoretical virtues constitute the aim of science while others are means of achieving the aim, the realist view that truth is the aim of science, and Bird’s view that knowledge is the aim of science. I argue that my proposal avoids the problematic consequences of these accounts for scientific rationality and scientific progress.