Explanation pp 61-91 | Cite as

Explanation and Confirmation: A Bayesian Critique of Inference to the Best Explanation

Part of the Synthese Library book series (SYLI, volume 302)


When I first presented a version of this paper in Leipzig, Germany, in 1996, Europe was deeply embroiled in the problem of “mad cow disease” (spongiform encephalopathy), which had afflicted many British cattle. Ten cases of a rare brain disease in humans (Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease — CJD) had been attributed to the consumption of infected beef, because that was taken by medical scientists as the best available explanation of certain special characteristics of these particular cases. The political and economic ramifications throughout the European Union were enormous.1


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