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Hypothesis Generation and Pursuit in Scientific Reasoning

NYRUP, RUNE (2017) Hypothesis Generation and Pursuit in Scientific Reasoning. Doctoral thesis, Durham University.

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This thesis draws a distinction between (i) reasoning about which scientific hypothesis to accept, (ii) reasoning concerned with generating new hypotheses and (iii) reasoning about which hypothesis to pursue. I argue that (ii) and (iii) should be evaluated according to the same normative standard, namely whether the hypotheses generated/selected are pursuit worthy. A consequentialist account of pursuit worthiness is defended, based on C. S. Peirce’s notion of ‘abduction’ and the ‘economy of research’, and developed as a family of formal, decision-theoretic models.

This account is then deployed to discuss four more specific topics concerning scientific reasoning. First, I defend an account according to which explanatory reasoning (including the ‘inference to the best explanation’) mainly provides reasons for pursuing hypotheses, and criticise empirical arguments for the view that it also provides reasons for acceptance. Second, I discuss a number of pursuit worthiness accounts of analogical reasoning in science, arguing that, in some cases, analogies allow scientists to transfer an already well-understood modelling framework to a new domain. Third, I discuss the use of analogies within archaeological theorising, arguing that the distinction between using analogies for acceptance, generation and pursuit is implicit in methodological discussions in archaeology. A philosophical analysis of these uses is presented. Fourth, diagnostic reasoning in medicine is analysed from the perspective of Peircean abduction, where the conception of abduction as strategic reasoning is shown to be particularly important.

Item Type:Thesis (Doctoral)
Award:Doctor of Philosophy
Keywords:Pursuit worthiness; hypothesis generation; scientific reasoning; explanatory reasoning; abduction; inference to the best explanation; analogy; philosophy of archaeology; medical diagnosis;
Faculty and Department:Faculty of Arts and Humanities > Philosophy, Department of
Thesis Date:2017
Copyright:Copyright of this thesis is held by the author
Deposited On:07 Jun 2017 15:50

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