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P.D. Magnus

Why novel prediction matters

Heather Douglas was my officemate when I visited the Center for Philosophy of Science in Pittsburgh. Lunchtime conversation escalated, and we coauthored this paper.

Versions available


It has become commonplace to say that novel predictive success is not epistemically special. Its value over accommodation, if it has any, is taken to be superficial or derivative. We argue that the value of predictive success is indeed instrumental. Nevertheless, it is a powerful instrument that provides significant epistemic assurances at many different levels. Even though these assurances are in principle dispensable, real science is rarely (if ever) in the position to confidently obtain them in other ways. So we argue for a pluralist instrumental predictivism: novel predictive success is important for inferences from data to phenomena, from phenomena to theories, and from theories to frameworks. Ignoring it would deprive science of a crucial tool.

I first put a draft of this paper on-line 6nov2011.


	AUTHOR = {Heather Douglas and P.D. Magnus},
	TITLE = {State of the field: Why novel prediction matters},
	JOURNAL = {Studies in History and Philosophy of Science},
	MONTH = dec,
	VOLUME = {44},
	NUMBER = {4},
	YEAR = {2013},
	PAGES = {580--589},
	DOI = {10.1016/j.shpsa.2013.04.001}