Sunday, September 27, 2009

The Explanatory Power of Ontology

(University of Michigan)

More from Alister McGrath's A Fine-Tuned Universe...

Ontology is "an understanding of the way things are, of the fundamental order of things. It is by discovering the "big picture" that its individual elements are able to be both known and understood." (McGrath, 56)

A study of the history of science discloses this pattern: viz., that theories that seem to have no fundamental connection are forged together as they are "recognized to be part of a bigger picture, which explains them, while they in turn reinforce the plausibility of the bigger picture. In other words A explains B while B justifies A." (Ib.)

Note also, and for further study: "Inference to the best explanation[IBE]," for example, appears to have a significant advantage over Bayesian approaches in being able to illuminate the context of scientific discovery." (McGrath, 57; cf. fn 25 for references) McGrath sees IBE as gaining esteem in science. IBE posits varying ontologies and reasons that one better explains an observation such as, for example, the fine-tuning of the universe.