Inference to the best explanation and scientific reasoning

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This has two parts. Each part needs to be roughly 200 words.

Part one:

Inference to the Best Explanation

One of the most common inferences in life is the inference to the best explanation (sometimes called abductive reasoning). We use this type of reasoning to infer what would best explain the things that we see. Chapter 6 in our book demonstrates ways in which this type of reasoning helps us to explain the world around us.

Prepare: Review Section 6.5 of the course text on Inferences to the Best Explanation. Choose a topic that is difficult or controversial to explain. Some good topics include hoaxes, unusual sightings (e.g. UFOs, bigfoot, etc.), the supernatural or paranormal (ghosts, levitation, etc.), conspiracy theories, unsolved crimes, court cases, etc.

Reflect: Do a little research to find a specific topic and learn about explanations on both sides. Consider what you think might best explain the observed facts of the case.

Write: Explain the topic you chose and why it is interesting or controversial. Present good arguments on more than one side of the issue (e.g. competing explanations of the facts). Analyze both arguments that you have presented. Then present your own argument for your theory that you feel will best explain this phenomenon. Are there any holes in your theory? Is there any information that would be likely to strengthen or weaken your case?

Part two:

Scientific Reasoning

Science is one of the most successful endeavors of mankind. Through the power of reason and careful observation, humans have found out how to get to the moon, cure diseases, and overcome many of the discomforts of nature. This discussion prompt provides you with an opportunity to practice identifying and evaluating specific types of scientific inference.

Prepare: Read Chapters 5 and 6 from the course text, in addition to the required resources for this week. Search for some scientific discovery that is interesting to you. It could be recent or old. Learn about how that discovery came about, and the type of reasoning that was used. You will be addressing the selected scientific discovery for this discussion.

Reflect: Evaluate the reasoning that was used on the basis of this week’s readings. You will need to do enough background reading to have a general idea of the basis for the discovery. Remember that the goal of this discussion is not to simply report what was discovered, but to examine the logic that led to establishing the outcome.

Write: Within your post:

oInclude a link or bibliographical information for the source.

oBriefly summarize the discovery and the process that led to it.

oExplain the sense in which the discovery involved inductive inference. (It is extremely likely that it did.)

oIf it did, present a portion of the process as an instance of one of the types of inductive argument covered in this week’s readings. Be sure to clearly demonstrate how the argument is of the type you claim. Hint: if you can’t find a more specific type, almost all scientific discoveries can be presented as Inference to the Best Explanation.

oEvaluate the argument using criteria appropriate to its type. State whether the argument is strong or weak.

oIdentify ways in which the argument might be strengthened or weakened.

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