Inference to the Best Explanation

<p><b>CONTENT</b>: This week begins by distinguishing inductive arguments from deductive arguments. Then we discuss four common forms of inductive argument: generalizations from samples (such as in political polls), applications of generalizations to particular cases (such as in predicting weather on a certain day), inferences to the best explanation (such as in using evidence to determine who committed a crime), and arguments from analogy (such as in identifying the use of one archaeological artifact by comparing it to other artifacts). We will expose the most common mistakes in these kinds of reasoning. Some of the "lectures" this week are a bit experimental (and perhaps weird!), as you will see. We hope that you enjoy them.<p><b>LEARNING OUTCOMES</b>: By the end of this week's material you will be able to do:<ul> <li>distinguish inductive from deductive arguments</li> <li>classify inductive arguments into five kinds</li> <li>identify and evaluate arguments that generalize from samples</li><li>identify and evaluate arguments that apply generalizations to cases</li><li>identify and evaluate inferences to the best explanation by applying standards that good explanations must meet</li><li>identify and evaluate arguments from analogy</li></ul></p><p><b>OPTIONAL READING</b>: If you want more examples or more detailed discussions of these kinds of inductive arguments, we recommend <em>Understanding Arguments, Ninth Edition</em>, Chapters 8 and 9.</p>

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