Evidence and Explanation

 

Nineteenth Annual Darwin College Lecture Series 2004

Lecture 5   :   February 13th 2004

Peter Lipton

Hans Rausing Professor - Department of the History and Philosophy of Science at Cambridge University

 

Abstract

How do we decide what the evidence shows? Some say that what the evidence shows is what would best explain why the evidence is as we find it to be. The dog didn't bark: what does that show? It shows that the person who entered the house that night must have been known to the dog, since that would explain why it did not bark. Inference to the Best Explanation seems to account for many of the ways we use evidence, in science and in everyday life, from Sherlock Holmes to Darwin. This lecture will develop this model of inference, consider objections, and meet some of them.

Biography

Peter Lipton is the Hans Rausing Professor and Head of the Department of the History and Philosophy of Science at Cambridge University and a Fellow of King's College. Professor Lipton's main philosophical interests lie in the theory of knowledge and the philosophy of science, especially questions concerning explanation and inference. These are questions about the difference between knowing that a given phenomenon occurs and understanding why it occurs, and questions about the ways the reliability of inconclusive evidence is judged. The second edition of his book _Inference to the Best Explanation_ is published by Routledge in Feburary 2004. 

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