Explanation, confirmation, and Hempel's paradox

In Kevin McCain & Ted Poston (eds.), Best explanations: New essays on inference to the best explanation. Oxford: Oxford University Press. pp. 219-241 (2017)
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Hempel’s Converse Consequence Condition (CCC), Entailment Condition (EC), and Special Consequence Condition (SCC) have some prima facie plausibility when taken individually. Hempel, though, shows that they have no plausibility when taken together, for together they entail that E confirms H for any propositions E and H. This is “Hempel’s paradox”. It turns out that Hempel’s argument would fail if one or more of CCC, EC, and SCC were modified in terms of explanation. This opens up the possibility that Hempel’s paradox can be solved by modifying one or more of CCC, EC, and SCC in terms of explanation. I explore this possibility by modifying CCC and SCC in terms of explanation and considering whether CCC and SCC so modified are correct. I also relate that possibility to Inference to the Best Explanation.

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William Roche
Texas Christian University


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