University of Iceland
Inland Norway University of Applied Sciences
  •  1170
    Scientific progress: Knowledge versus understanding
    Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part A 56 72-83. 2016.
    What is scientific progress? On Alexander Bird’s epistemic account of scientific progress, an episode in science is progressive precisely when there is more scientific knowledge at the end of the episode than at the beginning. Using Bird’s epistemic account as a foil, this paper develops an alternative understanding-based account on which an episode in science is progressive precisely when scientists grasp how to correctly explain or predict more aspects of the world at the end of the episode th…Read more
  •  315
    Deductive Cogency, understanding, and acceptance
    Synthese 195 (7): 3121-3141. 2018.
    Deductive Cogency holds that the set of propositions towards which one has, or is prepared to have, a given type of propositional attitude should be consistent and closed under logical consequence. While there are many propositional attitudes that are not subject to this requirement, e.g. hoping and imagining, it is at least prima facie plausible that Deductive Cogency applies to the doxastic attitude involved in propositional knowledge, viz. belief. However, this thought is undermined by the we…Read more
  •  264
    When Expert Disagreement Supports the Consensus
    Australasian Journal of Philosophy 96 (1): 142-156. 2018.
    It is often suggested that disagreement among scientific experts is a reason not to trust those experts, even about matters on which they are in agreement. In direct opposition to this view, I argue here that the very fact that there is disagreement among experts on a given issue provides a positive reason for non-experts to trust that the experts really are justified in their attitudes towards consensus theories. I show how this line of thought can be spelled out in three distinct frameworks fo…Read more
  •  224
    Book review of Paul Horwich, Probability and Evidence (Cambridge Philosophy Classics edition), Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2016, 147pp, £14.99 (paperback).
  •  403
    There May Yet be Non-causal Explanations
    Journal for General Philosophy of Science / Zeitschrift für Allgemeine Wissenschaftstheorie 47 (2): 377-384. 2016.
    There are many putative counterexamples to the view that all scientific explanations are causal explanations. Using a new theory of what it is to be a causal explanation, Bradford Skow has recently argued that several of the putative counterexamples fail to be non-causal. This paper defends some of the counterexamples by showing how Skow’s argument relies on an overly permissive theory of causal explanations.
  •  527
    Reconstructed Empiricism
    Acta Analytica 32 (1): 95-113. 2017.
    According to Bas van Fraassen, scientific realists and anti-realists disagree about whether accepting a scientific theory involves believing that the theory is true. On van Fraassen’s own anti-realist empiricist position, accepting a theory involves believing only that the theory is correct in its claims about observable aspects of the world. However, a number of philosophers have argued that acceptance and belief cannot be distinguished and thus that the debate is either confused or trivially s…Read more
  •  661
    Explanatory Rivals and the Ultimate Argument
    Theoria 82 (3): 217-237. 2015.
    Although many aspects of Inference to the Best Explanation have been extensively discussed, very little has so far been said about what it takes for a hypothesis to count as a rival explanatory hypothesis in the context of IBE. The primary aim of this article is to rectify this situation by arguing for a specific account of explanatory rivalry. On this account, explanatory rivals are complete explanations of a given explanandum. When explanatory rivals are conceived of in this way, I argue that …Read more
  •  347
    Abductively Robust Inference
    Analysis 77 (1): 20-29. 2017.
    Inference to the Best Explanation (IBE) is widely criticized for being an unreliable form of ampliative inference – partly because the explanatory hypotheses we have considered at a given time may all be false, and partly because there is an asymmetry between the comparative judgment on which an IBE is based and the absolute verdict that IBE is meant to license. In this paper, I present a further reason to doubt the epistemic merits of IBE and argue that it motivates moving to an inferential pat…Read more
  •  627
    Understanding without Justification or Belief
    Ratio 30 (3): 239-254. 2017.
    In recent years there has been a resurgence of interest among epistemologists in the nature of understanding, with some authors arguing that understanding should replace knowledge as the primary focus of epistemology. But what is understanding? According to what is often called the standard view, understanding is a species of knowledge. Although this view has recently been challenged in various ways, even the critics of the standard view have assumed that understanding requires justification and…Read more
  •  143
    Tvö viðhorf til vísindalegrar þekkingar -- eða eitt?
    Ritið -- Tímarit Hugvísindastofnunar 15 (1): 135-155. 2015.
    There are two main approaches to the epistemology of science. On the one hand, some hold that a scientific hypothesis is confirmed to the extent that the hypothesis explains the evidence better than alternative hypotheses concerning the same subject-matter. This idea is often referred to as Inference to the Best Explanation. On the other hand, some hold that a scientific hypothesis is confirmed to the extent that the hypothesis is probable given the evidence. This idea is often associated with B…Read more
  •  300
    Realism and the absence of rivals
    Synthese 194 (7): 2427-2446. 2017.
    Among the most serious challenges to scientific realism are arguments for the underdetermination of theory by evidence. This paper defends a version of scientific realism against what is perhaps the most influential recent argument of this sort, viz. Kyle Stanford’s New Induction over the History of Science. An essential part of the defense consists in a probabilistic analysis of the slogan “absence of evidence is not evidence of absence”. On this basis it is argued that the likelihood of a theo…Read more
  •  640
    Certainty and Explanation in Descartes’s Philosophy of Science
    Hopos: The Journal of the International Society for the History of Philosophy of Science 7 (2): 302-327. 2017.
    This paper presents a new approach to resolving an apparent tension in Descartes’ discussion of scientific theories and explanations in the Principles of Philosophy. On the one hand, Descartes repeatedly claims that any theories presented in science must be certain and indubitable. On the other hand, Descartes himself presents an astonishing number of speculative explanations of various scientific phenomena. In response to this tension, commentators have suggested that Descartes changed his mind…Read more