The Probabilistic No Miracles Argument

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Sprenger, Jan
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preprint description
This paper develops a probabilistic reconstruction of the No Miracles Argument (NMA) in the debate between scientific realists and anti-realists. The goal of the paper is to clarify and to sharpen the NMA by means of a probabilistic formalization. In particular, we demonstrate that the persuasive force of the NMA depends on the particular disciplinary context where it is applied, and the stability of theories in that discipline. Assessments and critiques of "the" NMA, without reference to a particular context, are misleading and should be relinquished. This result has repercussions for recent anti-realist arguments, such as the claim that the NMA commits the base rate fallacy (Howson 2000, Magnus and Callender2004). It also helps to explain the persistent disagreement between realists and anti-realists.