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Bayesianism and Explanatory Unification: A Compatibilist Account

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  01 January 2022

Abstract

Proponents of IBE claim that the ability of a hypothesis to explain a range of phenomena in a unifying way contributes to the hypothesis’s credibility in light of these phenomena. I propose a Bayesian justification of this claim that reveals a hitherto unnoticed role for explanatory unification in evaluating the plausibility of a hypothesis: considerations of explanatory unification enter into the determination of a hypothesis’s prior by affecting its ‘explanatory coherence’, that is, the extent to which the hypothesis offers mutually cohesive explanations of various phenomena.

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Footnotes

I would like to thank Heather Demarest, Michael Hicks, and two anonymous reviewers for very helpful comments. Thanks are also due to the John Templeton Foundation’s Varieties of Understanding project for funding this research.

References

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