Chapter

The Rainbow

Christopher Pincock

in Mathematics and Scientific Representation

Published in print January 2012 | ISBN: 9780199757107
Published online May 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780199932313 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199757107.003.0011

Series: Oxford Studies in the Philosophy of Science

The Rainbow

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Batterman has emphasized the importance of asymptotic explanation where the explanation involves taking limits. This chapter presents a detailed reconstruction of one such explanation. It involves the pattern of spacing of the supernumerary bows of a rainbow. Pincock essentially agrees with Batterman that this explanation is importantly different than some other kinds of explanation. Pincock tries to go further than Batterman in pinning down what beliefs about the rainbow are licensed by a form of inference to the best explanation. This illustrates a case of inference to the best explanation which involves mathematics, but which, in line with chapter 10, does not provide new evidence for the truth of mathematical claims.

Keywords: supernumerary bows; asymptotic explanation; inference to the best explanation

Chapter.  10700 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Philosophy of Science

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