Criteria for IBE

Nouveau

Well-known member
What are the general criteria by which one can reasonably say that one theory is better than another?

Please try to keep it general, i.e. any criteria mentioned should be applicable to any case of theory evaluation.
 

Gus Bovona

Well-known member
1. A theory has to be able to state what we would observe if the theory were true (otherwise known as making predictions that necessarily follow from the theory).

2. A theory has to be able to state what we would observe if the theory were NOT true (otherwise known being falsifiable, which is different from being falsified).
 

Komodo

Well-known member
Would add to what Gus and Pixie said: it should be compatible with other theories/conclusions which we are highly confident are true.

ETA: Also that (depending on how you're defining a "theory") what are generally thought of as "predictions" may or may not be central; it may be a case of "which explanation better accounts for the facts we agree on" rather than "which theory better predicts the appearance of new facts." That would be the case, for example, for competing theories/ideas about when and how the Iliad was composed.
 
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Gus Bovona

Well-known member
Would add to what Gus and Pixie said: it should be compatible with other theories/conclusions which we are highly confident are true.

ETA: Also that (depending on how you're defining a "theory") what are generally thought of as "predictions" may or may not be central; it may be a case of "which explanation better accounts for the facts we agree on" rather than "which theory better predicts the appearance of new facts." That would be the case, for example, for competing theories/ideas about when and how the Iliad was composed.
Hmmm, that's interesting. But wouldn't you also want to test that explanation by imagining what predictions that explanation would make? I guess that would not be part of abduction, though.
 

Arkycharlie

Active member
What are the general criteria by which one can reasonably say that one theory is better than another?

Please try to keep it general, i.e. any criteria mentioned should be applicable to any case of theory evaluation.
Considering that this thread is in the Evolution and Intelligent Design forum, this could get interesting! Obviously, abiogenesis should be in the thick of it also.
 

Komodo

Well-known member
Hmmm, that's interesting. But wouldn't you also want to test that explanation by imagining what predictions that explanation would make?
Ideally, yes. But sometimes the particulars make that very unlikely and/or unnecessary. Take the case of the Iliad: those who hypothesize "it was an oral composition" say, for example, "the verse of the Iliad has certain features, like the variable epithets attached to characters, which we only find in oral composition; here, for example, are parallels from three undoubted examples of oral composition; but you don't see anything like this in undoubted written compositions." This seems to me a very strong argument; pretty close to a decisive one.

If we try to imagine what predictions would come from this hypothesis, however, we run into problems. Should we say "I predict therefore that the next written composition we see will not have those features"? That wouldn't have much force; we've already got a million examples of written composition which don't have it, so the million-and-first doesn't mean much. In fact, there's a fair chance that a modern writer will put those features into a written work; that wouldn't mean much either, because it would almost certainly be there as homage to Homer.

I guess that would not be part of abduction, though.
In hypotheses about past events, I think that's what we're almost always left with.
 

Gus Bovona

Well-known member
Ideally, yes. But sometimes the particulars make that very unlikely and/or unnecessary. Take the case of the Iliad: those who hypothesize "it was an oral composition" say, for example, "the verse of the Iliad has certain features, like the variable epithets attached to characters, which we only find in oral composition; here, for example, are parallels from three undoubted examples of oral composition; but you don't see anything like this in undoubted written compositions." This seems to me a very strong argument; pretty close to a decisive one.

If we try to imagine what predictions would come from this hypothesis, however, we run into problems. Should we say "I predict therefore that the next written composition we see will not have those features"? That wouldn't have much force; we've already got a million examples of written composition which don't have it, so the million-and-first doesn't mean much. In fact, there's a fair chance that a modern writer will put those features into a written work; that wouldn't mean much either, because it would almost certainly be there as homage to Homer.


In hypotheses about past events, I think that's what we're almost always left with.
Agreed. With emphasis on "almost always." but your point holds.
 

Nouveau

Well-known member
What are the general criteria by which one can reasonably say that one theory is better than another?

Please try to keep it general, i.e. any criteria mentioned should be applicable to any case of theory evaluation.
Bump for CQ.
 

Torin

Well-known member
Steps:

1. Form objectively valid concepts of the relevant variables.
2. Form hypotheses as to how the relevant variables may be related.
2a. Note: All hypotheses must be consistent with the fundamental principles of the discipline in question.
3. Deduce predictions from each hypothesis.
4. Compare the predictions with observation or with experiment (Mill's methods of agreement and difference).

I am not sure that this is correct. It was interesting to attempt, though. It is a good match for how my mind behaves when I write a computer program.

Thoughts?
 

Cisco Qid

Active member
What are the general criteria by which one can reasonably say that one theory is better than another?

Please try to keep it general, i.e. any criteria mentioned should be applicable to any case of theory evaluation.
l try to limit my responses to a few to posts to avoid the piranha effect which cuts into my golf time. But if you insist.

First you have as unobserved event let's call it E. Then you have a series of possible explanations say H1 thru Hn. You then attempt to eliminate each of possible explanations and from the known possible explanations and chose which is the most probable for E. This becomes your BE by inference. It may not necessarily be the correct explanation because you may not have included every possible hypothesis but for the moment it is your BE. Future evidence may remove it as a BE must that does not impact the current situation.

In our case, the unobserved event is the beginning of life on the planet earth and the possible explanations are, materialism, evolution, and intelligent design. There may be others such transportation from another planet and explanations that include the multiverse but these are not part of the controversy. First you can eliminate evolution since evolution depends on already existing life. And secondly, we eliminate materialism because there is no theory for materialistic origin of life. There may be one in the future but that does not affect the fact that currently Intelligent Design is the best explanation by IBE. Intelligence is known to create the type of design and effect that we observe in life.
 
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Nouveau

Well-known member
l try to limit my responses to a few to posts to avoid the piranha effect which cuts into my golf time. But if you insist.

First you have as unobserved event let's call it E. Then you have a series of possible explanations say H1 thru Hn. You then attempt to eliminate each of possible explanations and from the known possible explanations and chose which is the most probable for E. This becomes your BE by inference. It may not necessarily be the correct explanation because you may not have included every possible hypothesis but for the moment it is your BE. Future evidence may remove it as a BE must that does not impact the current situation.

In our case, the unobserved event is the beginning of life on the planet earth and the possible explanations are, materialism, evolution, and intelligent design. There may be others such transportation from another planet and explanations that include the multiverse but these are not part of the controversy. First you can eliminate evolution since evolution depends on already existing life. And secondly, we eliminate materialism because there is no theory for materialistic origin of life. There may be one in the future but that does not affect the fact that currently Intelligent Design is the best explanation by IBE. Intelligence is known to create the type of design and effect that we observe in life.
Thankyou for finally responding! I'm asking for the criteria by which you determine which explanation is best. Please try to list actual criteria.

As per the OP, forget about evolution and ID and just answer for the general case of theory comparison and evaluation.
 

Cisco Qid

Active member
Thankyou for finally responding! I'm asking for the criteria by which you determine which explanation is best. Please try to list actual criteria.

As per the OP, forget about evolution and ID and just answer for the general case of theory comparison and evaluation.
Read the second paragraph, I already did. Now let's see yours. My criteria avoids much of the jargon but it pretty much summarizes IBE.
 

Nouveau

Well-known member
You list the criteria and show me where I'm deficient.
I'm asking for your criteria. Maybe you don't understand what that means? It has to be some value or standard you can name independently of any specific theory, that you can then use to assess the quality of a theory being evaluated.

Here are some examples others have already given in the thread so far:
• Predictive power
• Falsifiability
• Parsimony
• Consistency (with existing knowledge and accepted theories)

What are your criteria for IBE?
 
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