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Accept the new definitions of sufficient reason, reason, support, and normative inference.

The modification was suggested to Scientonomy community by Kye Palider on 23 December 2019.1 The modification is currently being evaluated; a verdict is pending.


Scientonomy currently has no way of talking about the reasons for which an agent accepted certain beliefs, nor what a reason is. Talk of reasons is often divided into both descriptive and normative components, which scientonomic theory should appreciate. Here are four interrelated terms that shed insight into the different components of reason.

The first is that of support which aims to capture a certain theory offering evidence or 'reason to believe' in another theory. However, support alone does not provide enough backing in order to accept a new theory, but merely increases that theory's plausibility. It is a descriptive relation between theories. Within scientific episodes, support is what comes prior to have a reason for accepting a new theory.

A reason is then taken to be something that, if had, will lead to accepting a new theory. In this sense, it is hypothetical in nature. Reasons are the theories, or pieces of evidence, that if had, would result in the acceptance of theories. They involve both a descriptive component suggesting implications between theories, and a normative component which motivates the acceptance of new theories.

A sufficient reason is an actual, as opposed to hypothetical, reason that instantiates acceptance. It is strictly stronger than the other three terms, as it captures all the required conditions that would lead an agent to accept a new theory, on the basis of another theory that serves as support. It is also called a sufficient reason in order to show its determining force in what an agent will or will not accept.

Lastly, the notion of normative inference is introduced. This is a form of reasoning, or implication, with its conclusion being normative. It aims to capture hypothetical scenarios in which an historian may want to consider what an agent should do, if they follow certain normative rules that they currently do not employ. It may serve as a way to see how agents should have reasoned, had they had different methods, or it may be used to show that a method was not employed by an agent, as they did not behave accordingly to its consequences.


Theories To Accept

(1) The agent accepts A.

(2) The agent accepts that AB.

(3) The agent employs ε.

(4) The agent accepts (ε, A, AB) →ε (Should accept B).

Sufficient Reason (Palider-2019).png

  • Support (Palider-2019): An agent takes theory A to be supporting theory B iff the agent accepts A and accepts that AB.

Support (Palider-2019).png

  • Reason (Palider-2019): An agent takes theory A to be a reason for theory B iff the agent accepts that AB, employs ε, and accepts (ε, A, AB) →ε (Should accept B).

Reason (Palider-2019).png

  • Normative Inference (Palider-2019): An agent takes theory A to normatively infer theory B iff the agent accepts A, accepts that AB, and accepts (ε, A, AB) →ε (Should accept B).

Normative Inference (Palider-2019).png

Questions Answered

This modification attempts to answer the following question(s):


The modification is currently being evaluated; a verdict is pending.

Click on the Discussion tab for comments.


  1. ^  Palider, Kye. (2019) Reasons in the Scientonomic Ontology. Scientonomy 3, 15-31. Retrieved from