Does IBE Require a "Model" of Explanation?

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British Journal for the Philosophy of Science

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Cabrera, Frank
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In this paper, I consider an important challenge to the popular theory of scientific inference commonly known as “Inference to the Best Explanation” (IBE), one which has received scant attention. The problem is that there exists a wide array of rival models of explanation, thus leaving IBE objectionably indeterminate. First, I briefly introduce IBE. Then, I motivate the problem and offer three potential solutions, the most plausible of which is to adopt a kind of pluralism about the rival models of explanation. However, I argue that i) how ranking explanations on this pluralistic account of IBE remains obscure and ii) pluralism leads to contradictory results. In light of these objections, I attempt to dissolve the problem by showing why IBE does not require a “model” of explanation and by giving an account of what explanation consists in within the context of IBE.