Explanation and Epistemology

William G. Lycan

in The Oxford Handbook of Epistemology

Published in print November 2002 | ISBN: 9780195130058
Published online November 2003 | e-ISBN: 9780199833481 | DOI:
Explanation and Epistemology

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In ”Explanation and Epistemology,” William Lycan proposes that explanation and epistemology are related in at least three ways. First, “to explain something is an epistemic act, and to have something explained to you is to learn.” The second way in which explanation is related to epistemology is by the idea of explanatory inference (the idea of proceeding from a specific explanandum to the best hypothetical explanation for that explanandum). This leads into a discussion of the third relation, Explanationism, which claims that a belief can be justified if it is arrived at by explanatory inference. Lycan distinguishes four degrees of the theory, but focuses on “Weak Explanationism” (the idea that epistemic justification by explanatory inference is possible) and “Ferocious Explanationism” (the notion that explanatory inference is the only basic form of ampliative inference).

Keywords: explanation; Explanationism; explanatory inference; William Lycan; pragmatic virtue

Chapter.  11606 words. 

Subjects: Metaphysics

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