•  219
    Inference to the best explanation: does it track truth?
    Synthese 185 (3): 411-427. 2012.
    In the form of inference known as inference to the best explanation there are various ways to characterise what is meant by the best explanation. This paper considers a number of such characterisations including several based on confirmation measures and several based on coherence measures. The goal is to find a measure which adequately captures what is meant by 'best' and which also yields the truth with a high degree of probability. Computer simulations are used to show that the overlap cohere…Read more
  •  137
    Coherence measures and inference to the best explanation
    Synthese 157 (3): 275-296. 2007.
    This paper considers an application of work on probabilistic measures of coherence to inference to the best explanation. Rather than considering information reported from different sources, as is usually the case when discussing coherence measures, the approach adopted here is to use a coherence measure to rank competing explanations in terms of their coherence with a piece of evidence. By adopting such an approach IBE can be made more precise and so a major objection to this mode of reasoning c…Read more
  •  53
    Two of the probabilistic measures of coherence discussed in this paper take probabilistic dependence into account and so depend on prior probabilities in a fundamental way. An example is given which suggests that this prior-dependence can lead to potential problems. Another coherence measure is shown to be independent of prior probabilities in a clearly defined sense and consequently is able to avoid such problems. The issue of prior-dependence is linked to the fact that the first two measures c…Read more
  •  36
    Coherence, Explanation, and Hypothesis Selection
    British Journal for the Philosophy of Science. forthcoming.
    This paper provides a new approach to inference to the best explanation based on a new coherence measure for comparing how well hypotheses explain the evidence. It addresses a number of criticisms of the use of probabilistic measures in this context by Clark Glymour, including limitations of earlier work on IBE. Computer experiments are used to show that the new approach finds the truth with a high degree of accuracy in hypothesis selection tasks and that in some cases its accuracy is greater th…Read more
  •  33
    A New Argument for the Likelihood Ratio Measure of Confirmation
    with Mark McCartney
    Acta Analytica 30 (1): 59-65. 2015.
    This paper presents a new argument for the likelihood ratio measure of confirmation by showing that one of the adequacy criteria used in another argument can be replaced by a more plausible and better supported criterion which is a special case of the weak likelihood principle. This new argument is also used to show that the likelihood ratio measure is to be preferred to a measure that has recently received support in the literature
  •  32
    Two-dimensional opinion dynamics in social networks with conflicting beliefs
    with Shuwei Chen and Mark McCartney
    AI and Society 34 (4): 695-704. 2019.
    Two models are developed for updating opinions in social networks under situations where certain beliefs might be considered to be competing. These two models represent different attitudes of people towards the perceived conflict between beliefs. In both models agents have a degree of tolerance, which represents the extent to which the agent takes into account the differing beliefs of other agents, and a degree of conflict, which represents the extent to which two beliefs are considered to be co…Read more
  •  28
    Science, God and Ockham’s razor
    Philosophical Studies 174 (5): 1145-1161. 2017.
    In discussions about the existence of God, it is sometimes claimed that the progress of science has removed the need for God. This paper uses a Bayesian analysis of Ockham’s razor to formulate and evaluate this argument, which is referred to as the science explains away God argument. Four different strategies for responding to this argument are presented and evaluated. It is argued that one of these strategies highlights how difficult it is to show that the conditions for applying Ockham’s razor…Read more
  •  21
    Hypothesis Competition beyond Mutual Exclusivity
    Philosophy of Science 84 (5): 810-824. 2017.
    Competition between scientific hypotheses is not always a matter of mutual exclusivity. Consistent hypotheses can compete to varying degrees either directly or indirectly via a body of evidence. We motivate and defend a particular account of hypothesis competition by showing how it captures these features. Computer simulations of Bayesian inference are used to highlight the limitations of adopting mutual exclusivity as a simplifying assumption to model scientific reasoning, particularly due to t…Read more
  •  10
    Two-dimensional opinion dynamics in social networks with conflicting beliefs
    with Shuwei Chen and Mark McCartney
    AI and Society 34 (4): 695-704. 2019.
    Two models are developed for updating opinions in social networks under situations where certain beliefs might be considered to be competing. These two models represent different attitudes of people towards the perceived conflict between beliefs. In both models agents have a degree of tolerance, which represents the extent to which the agent takes into account the differing beliefs of other agents, and a degree of conflict, which represents the extent to which two beliefs are considered to be co…Read more