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The Oxford Handbook of Epistemology$
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Paul K. Moser

Print publication date: 2002

Print ISBN-13: 9780195130058

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: November 2003

DOI: 10.1093/0195130057.001.0001

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Explanation and Epistemology

Explanation and Epistemology

(p.408) Chapter 14 Explanation and Epistemology
The Oxford Handbook of Epistemology

William G. Lycan

Oxford University Press

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

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