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Journal Article

Comparing Probabilistic Measures of Explanatory Power

Jonah N. Schupbach
Philosophy of Science
Vol. 78, No. 5 (December 2011), pp. 813-829
DOI: 10.1086/662278
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/10.1086/662278
Page Count: 17
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Comparing Probabilistic Measures of Explanatory Power
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Abstract

Recently, in attempting to account for explanatory reasoning in probabilistic terms, Bayesians have proposed several measures of the strength of a potential explanation. These candidate measures of “explanatory power” arguably have interesting normative interpretations and consequences. What has not yet been investigated, however, is whether any of these measures are also descriptive of people’s actual explanatory judgments. Here I present my own experimental work investigating this question. I argue that one measure in particular is an accurate descriptor of explanatory judgments. Then I briefly point to some implications of this result for the epistemology and the psychology of explanatory reasoning.

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