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IBE in engineering science : the case of malfunction explanation

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Abstract
In this paper we investigate how inference to the best explanation (IBE) works in engineering science, focussing on the context of malfunction explanation. While IBE has gotten a lot of attention in the philosophy of science literature, few, if any, philosophical work has focussed on IBE in engineering science practice. We first show that IBE in engineering science has a similar structure as IBE in other scientific domains in the sense that in both settings IBE hinges on the weighing of explanatory virtues. We then proceed to show that, due to the intimate connection between explanation and redesign in engineering science, there is a further engineering domain-specific virtue in terms of which engineering malfunction explanations are evaluated, viz. the virtue of redesign utility. This virtue entails that the explanatory information offered by a malfunction explanation should be instrumental in predicting counterfactual dependencies in redesigned systems. We illustrate and elaborate these points in terms of a number of engineering examples, focussing in particular on the 2009 crash of Air France Flight 447. Our extension of analyses of IBE and explanation to engineering science practice offers new insights by identifying a new explanatory virtue in malfunction explanation: redesign utility.
Keywords
History and Philosophy of Science, Philosophy, Abduction, Diagnosis, Engineering science, Explanatory virtues, Failure analysis, Inference to the best explanation, Redesign utility, ASCRIPTIONS, MECHANISMS, INFERENCE, THINKING

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MLA
Gonzalez Barman, Kristian Campbell, and Dingmar van Eck. “IBE in Engineering Science : The Case of Malfunction Explanation.” EUROPEAN JOURNAL FOR PHILOSOPHY OF SCIENCE, vol. 11, no. 1, 2020, doi:10.1007/s13194-020-00325-6.
APA
Gonzalez Barman, K. C., & van Eck, D. (2020). IBE in engineering science : the case of malfunction explanation. EUROPEAN JOURNAL FOR PHILOSOPHY OF SCIENCE, 11(1). https://doi.org/10.1007/s13194-020-00325-6
Chicago author-date
Gonzalez Barman, Kristian Campbell, and Dingmar van Eck. 2020. “IBE in Engineering Science : The Case of Malfunction Explanation.” EUROPEAN JOURNAL FOR PHILOSOPHY OF SCIENCE 11 (1). https://doi.org/10.1007/s13194-020-00325-6.
Chicago author-date (all authors)
Gonzalez Barman, Kristian Campbell, and Dingmar van Eck. 2020. “IBE in Engineering Science : The Case of Malfunction Explanation.” EUROPEAN JOURNAL FOR PHILOSOPHY OF SCIENCE 11 (1). doi:10.1007/s13194-020-00325-6.
Vancouver
1.
Gonzalez Barman KC, van Eck D. IBE in engineering science : the case of malfunction explanation. EUROPEAN JOURNAL FOR PHILOSOPHY OF SCIENCE. 2020;11(1).
IEEE
[1]
K. C. Gonzalez Barman and D. van Eck, “IBE in engineering science : the case of malfunction explanation,” EUROPEAN JOURNAL FOR PHILOSOPHY OF SCIENCE, vol. 11, no. 1, 2020.
@article{8718066,
  abstract     = {{In this paper we investigate how inference to the best explanation (IBE) works in engineering science, focussing on the context of malfunction explanation. While IBE has gotten a lot of attention in the philosophy of science literature, few, if any, philosophical work has focussed on IBE in engineering science practice. We first show that IBE in engineering science has a similar structure as IBE in other scientific domains in the sense that in both settings IBE hinges on the weighing of explanatory virtues. We then proceed to show that, due to the intimate connection between explanation and redesign in engineering science, there is a further engineering domain-specific virtue in terms of which engineering malfunction explanations are evaluated, viz. the virtue of redesign utility. This virtue entails that the explanatory information offered by a malfunction explanation should be instrumental in predicting counterfactual dependencies in redesigned systems. We illustrate and elaborate these points in terms of a number of engineering examples, focussing in particular on the 2009 crash of Air France Flight 447. Our extension of analyses of IBE and explanation to engineering science practice offers new insights by identifying a new explanatory virtue in malfunction explanation: redesign utility.}},
  articleno    = {{10}},
  author       = {{Gonzalez Barman, Kristian Campbell and van Eck, Dingmar}},
  issn         = {{1879-4912}},
  journal      = {{EUROPEAN JOURNAL FOR PHILOSOPHY OF SCIENCE}},
  keywords     = {{History and Philosophy of Science,Philosophy,Abduction,Diagnosis,Engineering science,Explanatory virtues,Failure analysis,Inference to the best explanation,Redesign utility,ASCRIPTIONS,MECHANISMS,INFERENCE,THINKING}},
  language     = {{eng}},
  number       = {{1}},
  pages        = {{19}},
  title        = {{IBE in engineering science : the case of malfunction explanation}},
  url          = {{http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s13194-020-00325-6}},
  volume       = {{11}},
  year         = {{2020}},
}

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