Abstract

Explanatory theories in psychology usually are evaluated by using the hypothetico-deductive method and testing them for their predictive adequacy. This article brings the alternative idea of inference to the best explanation to the attention of psychologists and suggests that it provides them with a set of methodological resources for evaluating the explanatory worth of their theories. I present 3 characterizations of the notion of inference to the best explanation. The strengths and limitations of inference to the best explanation are then considered, as is its relationship to the hypothetico-deductive and Bayesian approaches to theory appraisal. Thereafter, I suggest a proper scope for inference to the best explanation as a scientific method, make recommendations for using the approach in psychology, and recommend its adoption in the appraisal of psychological theories.

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