Resources (ER) help or hurt rival answers. Continuing with the
case of poor Charlie and his sore tooth, it would help to add that he
is six years old. The answers to our investigation do not need to
explain that he is six years old, but the fact that he is six
might help us characterise his relationship with truth-telling.
(Sometimes little kids will say whatever it takes to not have to eat
When a resource helps a rival answer look like a better answer to the lead question, we say that the resource underwrites the rival. When a resource hurts the likelihood of a rival answer, we say the resource undermines the rival. Underwriting and undermining are the main roles of explanatory resources.
Underwriting Resources make one or more rival answers seem more plausible.
Undermining Resources make one or more rival answers seem less plausible.
It is important that we pick out relevant resources. For example, if the Lead Question is about a car that won’t start, then a resource about how well a certain tire tread holds the road in rainy conditions will neither help nor hurt a Rival Answer. In this, you must use your judgement to collect and express appropriate resources.