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Should the power of an explanation, especially in science (though I'm interested if this changes anything), have a limited scope? Meaning that in abduction an explanation that explains more isn't always ceteris paribus better than its alternative?

I think yes, but it's based on my own take on (completely unscientific) events. I will restate what I mean.


You see Doug making a racist joke, and you're not sure why. You can deduce that he's been offensive, or induce that he's a racist. You can also try to explain his behaviour (abduction), perhaps by reasoning that he's been ironic. But any explanation isn't better just because it explains something else that's not the question at hand.

So the explanation that actually Doug has started working undercover to spy on Nazis, is in no way a better explanation of his joke just because it also explains how he's a fashion conscious vegetarian but has started buying a lot of bad leather clothes.

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    What do you mean by the term should? – user22542 Jul 28 '16 at 1:01
  • What might help is to explore what the purpose of an explanation is (the explanation of explaining?). We can talk all day long about this topic, but as iggy pointed out, the term "should" is really hard to discuss unless we agree upon the purpose of explaining. – Cort Ammon Jul 28 '16 at 2:34
  • @CortAmmon for the purposes of the better explanation. my second sentence above is key – user6917 Jul 28 '16 at 6:04

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