Our Formal System

When formalising best explanations and investigations, we first pick out the question that needs answer. Recall the relationship we explored between giving reasons and answering questions. Let’s call the question in need of answers the Lead Question.

Then, we pick out the evidence that the answers need to explain. Let’s call this Evidence to Explain. The evidence will be data or actions that, for whatever reasons, stood out in the circumstances. Sometimes, in the simplest of cases, the Evidence to Explain is little more than a descriptive restatement of the Lead Question.

Once these are in place, we can come up with possible answers to the Lead Question. We’re free to be creative at this point. Let’s call these possibilities Rival Answers.

Finally, we introduce Explanatory Resources, which are facts about the circumstances that need not be explained by an answer to the Lead Question. These help one or more of the answers seem better, or one or more of the answers seem worse.

Formal Structure of an Investigation

The Lead Question (LQ) is a well-framed questions that guide inferences or investigations.

Evidence to Explain (EE) includes observations and data that answers to Lead Questions need to explain. Some evidence will be indispensable.

Rival Answers (RA) are possible answers to Lead Questions.

Explanatory Resources (ER) include facts and data that answers to Lead Questions do not need to explain, but that underwrite or undermine Rival Answers.

Last modified: Wednesday, 7 February 2018, 9:37 PM