There are currently two robust traditions in philosophy dealing with doxastic attitudes: the tradition that is concerned primarily with all-or-nothing belief, and the tradition that is concerned primarily with degree of belief or credence. This paper concerns the relationship between belief and credence for a rational agent, and is directed at those who may have hoped that the notion of belief can either be reduced to credence or eliminated altogether when characterizing the norms governing ideally rational agents. It presents a (...) puzzle which lends support to two theses. First, that there is no formal reduction of a rational agent’s beliefs to her credences, because belief and credence are each responsive to different features of a body of evidence. Second, that if our traditional understanding of our practices of holding each other responsible is correct, then belief has a distinctive role to play, even for ideally rational agents, that cannot be played by credence. The question of which avenues remain for the credence-only theorist is considered. (shrink)
This paper provides an account of what it is to have faith in a proposition p, in both religious and mundane contexts. It is argued that faith in p doesn’t require adopting a degree of belief that isn’t supported by one’s evidence but rather it requires terminating one’s search for further evidence and acting on the supposition that p. It is then shown, by responding to a formal result due to I.J. Good, that doing so can be rational in a (...) number of circumstances. If expected utility theory is the correct account of practical rationality, then having faith can be both epistemically and practically rational if the costs associated with gathering further evidence or postponing the decision are high. If a more permissive framework is adopted, then having faith can be rational even when there are no costs associated with gathering further evidence. (shrink)
The ‘rollback argument,’ pioneered by Peter van Inwagen, purports to show that indeterminism in any form is incompatible with free will. The argument has two major premises: the first claims that certain facts about chances obtain in a certain kind of hypothetical situation, and the second that these facts entail that some actual act is not free. Since the publication of the rollback argument, the second claim has been vehemently debated, but everyone seems to have taken the first claim for (...) granted. Nevertheless, the first claim is totally unjustified. Even if we accept the second claim, therefore, the argument gives us no reason to think that free will and indeterminism are incompatible. Furthermore, seeing where the rollback argument goes wrong illuminates how a certain kind of incompatibilist, the ‘chance-incompatibilist,’ ought to think about free will and chance, and points to a possibility for free will that has remained largely unexplored. (shrink)
A natural view in distributive ethics is that everyone's interests matter, but the interests of the relatively worse off matter more than the interests of the relatively better off. I provide a new argument for this view. The argument takes as its starting point the proposal, due to Harsanyi and Rawls, that facts about distributive ethics are discerned from individual preferences in the "original position." I draw on recent work in decision theory, along with an intuitive principle about risk-taking, to (...) derive the view. (shrink)
This article shows that a slight variation of the argument in Milne 1996 yields the log‐likelihood ratio l rather than the log‐ratio measure r as “the one true measure of confirmation. ” *Received December 2006; revised December 2007. †To contact the author, please write to: Formal Epistemology Research Group, Zukunftskolleg and Department of Philosophy, University of Konstanz, P.O. Box X906, 78457 Konstanz, Germany; e‐mail: franz.huber@uni‐konstanz.de.
Decision theory has at its core a set of mathematical theorems that connect rational preferences to functions with certain structural properties. The components of these theorems, as well as their bearing on questions surrounding rationality, can be interpreted in a variety of ways. Philosophy’s current interest in decision theory represents a convergence of two very different lines of thought, one concerned with the question of how one ought to act, and the other concerned with the question of what action consists (...) in and what it reveals about the actor’s mental states. As a result, the theory has come to have two different uses in philosophy, which we might call the normative use and the interpretive use. It also has a related use that is largely within the domain of psychology, the descriptive use. This essay examines the historical development of decision theory and its uses; the relationship between the norm of decision theory and the notion of rationality; and the interdependence of the uses of decision theory. (shrink)
The problem addressed in this paper is “the main epistemic problem concerning science”, viz. “the explication of how we compare and evaluate theories [...] in the light of the available evidence” (van Fraassen, BC, 1983, Theory comparison and relevant Evidence. In J. Earman (Ed.), Testing scientific theories (pp. 27–42). Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press). Sections 1– 3 contain the general plausibility-informativeness theory of theory assessment. In a nutshell, the message is (1) that there are two values a theory should exhibit: (...) truth and informativeness—measured respectively by a truth indicator and a strength indicator; (2) that these two values are conflicting in the sense that the former is a decreasing and the latter an increasing function of the logical strength of the theory to be assessed; and (3) that in assessing a given theory by the available data one should weigh between these two conflicting aspects in such a way that any surplus in informativeness succeeds, if the shortfall in plausibility is small enough. Particular accounts of this general theory arise by inserting particular strength indicators and truth indicators. In Section 4 the theory is spelt out for the Bayesian paradigm of subjective probabilities. It is then compared to incremental Bayesian confirmation theory. Section 4 closes by asking whether it is likely to be lovely. Section 5 discusses a few problems of confirmation theory in the light of the present approach. In particular, it is briefly indicated how the present account gives rise to a new analysis of Hempel’s conditions of adequacy for any relation of confirmation (Hempel, CG, 1945, Studies in the logic of comfirmation. Mind, 54, 1–26, 97–121.), differing from the one Carnap gave in § 87 of his Logical foundations of probability (1962, Chicago: University of Chicago Press). Section 6 adresses the question of justification any theory of theory assessment has to face: why should one stick to theories given high assessment values rather than to any other theories? The answer given by the Bayesian version of the account presented in section 4 is that one should accept theories given high assessment values, because, in the medium run, theory assessment almost surely takes one to the most informative among all true theories when presented separating data. The concluding section 7 continues the comparison between the present account and incremental Bayesian confirmation theory. (shrink)
Degrees of belief are familiar to all of us. Our conﬁdence in the truth of some propositions is higher than our conﬁdence in the truth of other propositions. We are pretty conﬁdent that our computers will boot when we push their power button, but we are much more conﬁdent that the sun will rise tomorrow. Degrees of belief formally represent the strength with which we believe the truth of various propositions. The higher an agent’s degree of belief for a particular (...) proposition, the higher her conﬁdence in the truth of that proposition. For instance, Sophia’s degree of belief that it will be sunny in Vienna tomorrow might be .52, whereas her degree of belief that the train will leave on time might be .23. The precise meaning of these statements depends, of course, on the underlying theory of degrees of belief. These theories offer a formal tool to measure degrees of belief, to investigate the relations between various degrees of belief in different propositions, and to normatively evaluate degrees of belief. (shrink)
In “Can it be rational to have faith?”, it was argued that to have faith in some proposition consists, roughly speaking, in stopping one’s search for evidence and committing to act on that proposition without further evidence. That paper also outlined when and why stopping the search for evidence and acting is rationally required. Because the framework of that paper was that of formal decision theory, it primarily considered the relationship between faith and degrees of belief, rather than between faith (...) and belief full stop. This paper explores the relationship between rational faith and justified belief, by considering four prominent proposals about the relationship between belief and degrees of belief, and by examining what follows about faith and belief according to each of these proposals. It is argued that we cannot reach consensus concerning the relationship between faith and belief at present because of the more general epistemological lack of consensus over how belief relates to rationality: in particular, over how belief relates to the degrees of belief it is rational to have given one’s evidence. (shrink)
Some early phase clinical studies of candidate HIV cure and remission interventions appear to have adverse medical risk–benefit ratios for participants. Why, then, do people participate? And is it ethically permissible to allow them to participate? Recent work in decision theory sheds light on both of these questions, by casting doubt on the idea that rational individuals prefer choices that maximise expected utility, and therefore by casting doubt on the idea that researchers have an ethical obligation not to enrol participants (...) in studies with high risk–benefit ratios. This work supports the view that researchers should instead defer to the considered preferences of the participants themselves. This essay briefly explains this recent work, and then explores its application to these two questions in more detail. (shrink)
Recent accounts of actual causation are stated in terms of extended causal models. These extended causal models contain two elements representing two seemingly distinct modalities. The first element are structural equations which represent the or mechanisms of the model, just as ordinary causal models do. The second element are ranking functions which represent normality or typicality. The aim of this paper is to show that these two modalities can be unified. I do so by formulating two constraints under which extended (...) causal models with their two modalities can be subsumed under so called which contain just one modality. These two constraints will be formally precise versions of Lewissystem of weights or priorities” governing overall similarity between possible worlds. (shrink)
This paper starts by indicating the analysis of Hempel's conditions of adequacy for any relation of confirmation (Hempel, 1945) as presented in Huber (submitted). There I argue contra Carnap (1962, Section 87) that Hempel felt the need for two concepts of confirmation: one aiming at plausible theories and another aiming at informative theories. However, he also realized that these two concepts are conflicting, and he gave up the concept of confirmation aiming at informative theories. The main part of the (...) paper consists in working out the claim that one can have Hempel's cake and eat it too - in the sense that there is a logic of theory assessment that takes into account both of the two conflicting aspects of plausibility and informativeness. According to the semantics of this logic, a is an acceptable theory for evidence β if and only if a is both sufficiently plausible given β and sufficiently informative about β. This is spelt out in terms of ranking functions (Spohn, 1988) and shown to represent the syntactically specified notion of an assessment relation. The paper then compares these acceptability relations to explanatory and confirmatory consequence relations (Flach, 2000) as well as to nonmonotonic consequence relations (Kraus et al., 1990). It concludes by relating the plausibility-informativeness approach to Carnap's positive relevance account, thereby shedding new light on Carnap's analysis as well as solving another problem of confirmation theory. (shrink)
Philosophers typically rely on intuitions when providing a semantics for counterfactual conditionals. However, intuitions regarding counterfactual conditionals are notoriously shaky. The aim of this paper is to provide a principled account of the semantics of counterfactual conditionals. This principled account is provided by what I dub the Royal Rule, a deterministic analogue of the Principal Principle relating chance and credence. The Royal Rule says that an ideal doxastic agent’s initial grade of disbelief in a proposition \(A\) , given that the (...) counterfactual distance in a given context to the closest \(A\) -worlds equals \(n\) , and no further information that is not admissible in this context, should equal \(n\) . Under the two assumptions that the presuppositions of a given context are admissible in this context, and that the theory of deterministic alethic or metaphysical modality is admissible in any context, it follows that the counterfactual distance distribution in a given context has the structure of a ranking function. The basic conditional logic V is shown to be sound and complete with respect to the resulting rank-theoretic semantics of counterfactuals. (shrink)
The paper provides an argument for the thesis that an agent’s degrees of disbelief should obey the ranking calculus. This Consistency Argument is based on the Consistency Theorem. The latter says that an agent’s belief set is and will always be consistent and deductively closed iff her degrees of entrenchment satisfy the ranking axioms and are updated according to the ranktheoretic update rules.
Philosophically, one of the most important questions in the enterprise termed confirmation theory is this: Why should one stick to well confirmed theories rather than to any other theories? This paper discusses the answers to this question one gets from absolute and incremental Bayesian confirmation theory. According to absolute confirmation, one should accept ''absolutely well confirmed'' theories, because absolute confirmation takes one to true theories. An examination of two popular measures of incremental confirmation suggests the view that one should stick (...) to incrementally well confirmed theories, because incremental confirmation takes one to (the most) informative (among all) true theories. However, incremental confirmation does not further this goal in general. I close by presenting a necessary and sufficient condition for revealing the confirmational structure in almost every world when presented separating data. (shrink)
I have claimed that risk-weighted expected utility maximizers are rational, and that their preferences cannot be captured by expected utility theory. Richard Pettigrew and Rachael Briggs have recently challenged these claims. Both authors argue that only EU-maximizers are rational. In addition, Pettigrew argues that the preferences of REU-maximizers can indeed be captured by EU theory, and Briggs argues that REU-maximizers lose a valuable tool for simplifying their decision problems. I hold that their arguments do not succeed and that my original (...) claims still stand. However, their arguments do highlight some costs of REU theory. (shrink)
Belief revision theory studies how an ideal doxastic agent should revise her beliefs when she receives new information. In part I, I have first presented the AGM theory of belief revision. Then I have focused on the problem of iterated belief revisions. In part II, I will first present ranking theory (Spohn 1988). Then I will show how it solves the problem of iterated belief revisions. I will conclude by sketching two areas of future research.
Bayesianism is the position that scientific reasoning is probabilistic and that probabilities are adequately interpreted as an agent's actual subjective degrees of belief, measured by her betting behaviour. Confirmation is one important aspect of scientific reasoning. The thesis of this paper is the following: if scientific reasoning is at all probabilistic, the subjective interpretation has to be given up in order to get right confirmation—and thus scientific reasoning in general. The Bayesian approach to scientific reasoning Bayesian confirmation theory The example (...) The less reliable the source of information, the higher the degree of Bayesian confirmation Measure sensitivity A more general version of the problem of old evidence Conditioning on the entailment relation The counterfactual strategy Generalizing the counterfactual strategy The desired result, and a necessary and sufficient condition for it Actual degrees of belief The common knock-down feature, or ‘anything goes’ The problem of prior probabilities. (shrink)
Faith is a central attitude in Christian religious practice. The problem of faith and reason is the problem of reconciling religious faith with the standards for our belief-forming practices in general (‘ordinary epistemic standards’). In order to see whether and when faith can be reconciled with ordinary epistemic standards, we first need to know what faith is. This chapter examines and catalogues views of propositional faith: faith that p. It is concerned with the epistemology of such faith: what cognitive attitudes (...) does such faith require, what epistemic norms govern these attitudes, and whether Christian faith can ever adhere to them. (shrink)
Belief revision theory studies how an ideal doxastic agent should revise her beliefs when she receives new information. In part I I will first present the AGM theory of belief revision (Alchourrón & Gärdenfors & Makinson 1985). Then I will focus on the problem of iterated belief revisions.
The Spohnian paradigm of ranking functions is in many respects like an order-of-magnitude reverse of subjective probability theory. Unlike probabilities, however, ranking functions are only indirectly—via a pointwise ranking function on the underlying set of possibilities W —defined on a field of propositions A over W. This research note shows under which conditions ranking functions on a field of propositions A over W and rankings on a language L are induced by pointwise ranking functions on W and the set of (...) models for L, ModL, respectively. (shrink)
This paper presents a new analysis of C.G. Hempel’s conditions of adequacy for any relation of confirmation [Hempel C. G. (1945). Aspects of scientific explanation and other essays in the philosophy of science. New York: The Free Press, pp. 3–51.], differing from the one Carnap gave in §87 of his [1962. Logical foundations of probability (2nd ed.). Chicago: University of Chicago Press.]. Hempel, it is argued, felt the need for two concepts of confirmation: one aiming at true hypotheses and another (...) aiming at informative hypotheses. However, he also realized that these two concepts are conflicting, and he gave up the concept of confirmation aiming at informative hypotheses. I then show that one can have Hempel’s cake and eat it too. There is a logic that takes into account both of these two conflicting aspects. According to this logic, a sentence H is an acceptable hypothesis for evidence E if and only if H is both sufficiently plausible given E and sufficiently informative about E. Finally, the logic sheds new light on Carnap’s analysis. (shrink)
The question I am addressing in this paper is the following: how is it possible to empirically test, or confirm, counterfactuals? After motivating this question in Section 1, I will look at two approaches to counterfactuals, and at how counterfactuals can be empirically tested, or confirmed, if at all, on these accounts in Section 2. I will then digress into the philosophy of probability in Section 3. The reason for this digression is that I want to use the way observable (...) absolute and relative frequencies, two empirical notions, are used to empirically test, or confirm, hypotheses about objective chances, a metaphysical notion, as a role-model. Specifically, I want to use this probabilistic account of the testing of chance hypotheses as a role-model for the account of the testing of counterfactuals, another metaphysical notion, that I will present in Sections 4 to 8. I will conclude by comparing my proposal to one non-probabilistic and one probabilistic alternative in Section 9. (shrink)
The orthodox theory of instrumental rationality, expected utility (EU) theory, severely restricts the way in which risk-considerations can figure into a rational individual's preferences. It is argued here that this is because EU theory neglects an important component of instrumental rationality. This paper presents a more general theory of decision-making, risk-weighted expected utility (REU) theory, of which expected utility maximization is a special case. According to REU theory, the weight that each outcome gets in decision-making is not the subjective probability (...) of that outcome; rather, the weight each outcome gets depends on both its subjective probability and its position in the gamble. Furthermore, the individual's utility function, her subjective probability function, and a function that measures her attitude towards risk can be separately derived from her preferences via a Representation Theorem. This theorem illuminates the role that each of these entities plays in preferences, and shows how REU theory explicates the components of instrumental rationality. (shrink)
The thesis of this paper is that we can justify induction deductively relative to one end, and deduction inductively relative to a different end. I will begin by presenting a contemporary variant of Hume ’s argument for the thesis that we cannot justify the principle of induction. Then I will criticize the responses the resulting problem of induction has received by Carnap and Goodman, as well as praise Reichenbach ’s approach. Some of these authors compare induction to deduction. Haack compares (...) deduction to induction, and I will critically discuss her argument for the thesis that we cannot justify the principles of deduction next. In concluding I will defend the thesis that we can justify induction deductively relative to one end, and deduction inductively relative to a different end, and that we can do so in a non-circular way. Along the way I will show how we can understand deductive and inductive logic as normative theories, and I will briefly sketch an argument to the effect that there are only hypothetical, but no categorical imperatives. (shrink)
Causal selection is the cognitive process through which one or more elements in a complex causal structure are singled out as actual causes of a certain effect. In this paper, we report on an experiment in which we investigated the role of moral and temporal factors in causal selection. Our results are as follows. First, when presented with a temporal chain in which two human agents perform the same action one after the other, subjects tend to judge the later agent (...) to be the actual cause. Second, the impact of temporal location on causal selection is almost canceled out if the later agent did not violate a norm while the former did. We argue that this is due to the impact that judgments of norm violation have on causal selection—even if the violated norm has nothing to do with the obtaining effect. Third, moral judgments about the effect influence causal selection even in the case in which agents could not have foreseen the effect and did not intend to bring it about. We discuss our findings in connection to recent theories of the role of moral judgment in causal reasoning, on the one hand, and to probabilistic models of temporal location, on the other. (shrink)
Does postulating skeptical theism undermine the claim that evil strongly confirms atheism over theism? According to Perrine and Wykstra, it does undermine the claim, because evil is no more likely on atheism than on skeptical theism. According to Draper, it does not undermine the claim, because evil is much more likely on atheism than on theism in general. I show that the probability facts alone do not resolve their disagreement, which ultimately rests on which updating procedure – conditionalizing or updating (...) on a conditional – fits both the evidence and how we ought to take that evidence into account. (shrink)
Weisberg introduces a phenomenon he terms perceptual undermining. He argues that it poses a problem for Jeffrey conditionalization, and Bayesian epistemology in general. This is Weisberg’s paradox. Weisberg argues that perceptual undermining also poses a problem for ranking theory and for Dempster-Shafer theory. In this note I argue that perceptual undermining does not pose a problem for any of these theories: for true conditionalizers Weisberg’s paradox is a false alarm.
The problem adressed in this paper is “the main epistemic problem concerning science”, viz. “the explication of how we compare and evaluate theories [...] in the light of the available evidence” (van Fraassen 1983, 27).
We argue that a semantics for counterfactual conditionals in terms of comparative overall similarity faces a formal limitation due to Arrow’s impossibility theorem from social choice theory. According to Lewis’s account, the truth-conditions for counterfactual conditionals are given in terms of the comparative overall similarity between possible worlds, which is in turn determined by various aspects of similarity between possible worlds. We argue that a function from aspects of similarity to overall similarity should satisfy certain plausible constraints while Arrow’s impossibility (...) theorem rules out that such a function satisfies all the constraints simultaneously. We argue that a way out of this impasse is to represent aspectual similarity in terms of ranking functions instead of representing it in a purely ordinal fashion. Further, we argue against the claim that the determination of overall similarity by aspects of similarity faces a difficulty in addition to the Arrovian limitation, namely the incommensurability of different aspects of similarity. The phenomena that have been cited as evidence for such incommensurability are best explained by ordinary vagueness. (shrink)
Any theory of confirmation must answer the following question: what is the purpose of its conception of confirmation for scientific inquiry? In this article, we argue that no Bayesian conception of confirmation can be used for its primary intended purpose, which we take to be making a claim about how worthy of belief various hypotheses are. Then we consider a different use to which Bayesian confirmation might be put, namely, determining the epistemic value of experimental outcomes, and thus to decide (...) which experiments to carry out. Interestingly, Bayesian confirmation theorists rule out that confirmation be used for this purpose. We conclude that Bayesian confirmation is a means with no end. 1 Introduction2 Bayesian Confirmation Theory3 Bayesian Confirmation and Belief4 Confirmation and the Value of Experiments5 Conclusion. (shrink)
Ranking functions have been introduced under the name of ordinal conditional functions in Spohn (1988; 1990). They are representations of epistemic states and their dynamics. The most comprehensive and up to date presentation is Spohn (manuscript).
There are many psychic mechanisms by which people engage with their selves. We argue that an important yet hitherto neglected one is self-appraisal via meta-emotions. We discuss the intentional structure of meta-emotions and explore the phenomenology of a variety of examples. We then present a pilot study providing preliminary evidence that some facial displays may indicate the presence of meta-emotions. We conclude by arguing that meta-emotions have an important role to play in higher-order theories of psychic harmony.
The paper presents a new analysis of Hempel’s conditions of adequacy, differing from the one in Carnap. Hempel, so it is argued, felt the need for two concepts of confirmation: one aiming at true theories, and another aiming at informative theories. However, so the analysis continues, he also realized that these two concepts were conflicting, and so he gave up the concept of confirmation aiming at informative theories. It is then shown that one can have the cake and eat it: (...) There is a logic of confirmation that accounts for both of these two conflicting aspects. (shrink)
How should a group with different opinions (but the same values) make decisions? In a Bayesian setting, the natural question is how to aggregate credences: how to use a single credence function to naturally represent a collection of different credence functions. An extension of the standard Dutch-book arguments that apply to individual decision-makers recommends that group credences should be updated by conditionalization. This imposes a constraint on what aggregation rules can be like. Taking conditionalization as a basic constraint, we gather (...) lessons from the established work on credence aggregation, and extend this work with two new impossibility results. We then explore contrasting features of two kinds of rules that satisfy the constraints we articulate: one kind uses fixed prior credences, and the other uses geometric averaging, as opposed to arithmetic averaging. We also prove a new characterisation result for geometric averaging. Finally we consider applications to neighboring philosophical issues, including the epistemology of disagreement. (shrink)
In this chapter we use methods of corpus linguistics to investigate the ways in which mathematicians describe their work as explanatory in their research papers. We analyse use of the words explain/explanation (and various related words and expressions) in a large corpus of texts containing research papers in mathematics and in physical sciences, comparing this with their use in corpora of general, day-to-day English. We find that although mathematicians do use this family of words, such use is considerably less prevalent (...) in mathematics papers than in physics papers or in general English. Furthermore, we find that the proportion with which mathematicians use expressions related to ‘explaining why’ and ‘explaining how’ is significantly different to the equivalent proportion in physics and in general English. We discuss possible accounts for these differences. (shrink)
Logic is the study of the quality of arguments. An argument consists of a set of premises and a conclusion. The quality of an argument depends on at least two factors: the truth of the premises, and the strength with which the premises confirm the conclusion. The truth of the premises is a contingent factor that depends on the state of the world. The strength with which the premises confirm the conclusion is supposed to be independent of the state of (...) the world. Logic is only concerned with this second, logical factor of the quality of arguments. (shrink)
Searle proposes an argument in order to prove the existence of universals and thereby solve the problem of universals: From every meaningful general term P(x) follows a tautology Vx[P(x) v -P(x)], which entails the existence of the corresponding universal P. To be convincing, this argument for existence must be valid, it must presume true premises and it must be free of any informal fallacy. First, the validity of the argument for existence in its non-modal interpretation will be proven with the (...) help of the formal deductive system F. Secondly, it will be shown that a self-contradictory tautology concept is employed, which renders the premises meaningless. Consequently, the inconsistency will be emended through redefinition and the argument's ensuing correctness will be demonstrated. Finally, it will be shown that the argument for existence presupposes the existence of universals in its premise and hence begs the question. (shrink)
Crupi et al. propose a generalization of Bayesian conﬁrmation theory that they claim to adequately deal with conﬁrmation by uncertain evidence. Consider a series of points of time t0, . . . , ti, . . . , tn such that the agent’s subjective probability for an atomic proposition E changes from Pr0 at t0 to . . . to Pri at ti to . . . to Prn at tn. It is understood that the agent’s subjective probabilities change for (...) E and no logically stronger proposition, and that the agent updates her subjective probabilities by Jeffrey conditionalization. For this speciﬁc scenario the authors propose to take the difference between Pr0 and Pri as the degree to which E conﬁrms H for the agent at time ti , C0,i. This proposal is claimed to be adequate, because. (shrink)
This paper discusses an almost sixty year old problem in the philosophy of science -- that of a logic of confirmation. We present a new analysis of Carl G. Hempel's conditions of adequacy (Hempel 1945), differing from the one Carnap gave in §87 of his Logical Foundations of Probability (1962). Hempel, it is argued, felt the need for two concepts of confirmation: one aiming at true theories and another aiming at informative theories. However, he also realized that these two concepts (...) are conflicting, and he gave up the concept of confirmation aiming at informative theories. We then show that one can have Hempel's cake and eat it, too: There is a (rank-theoretic and genuinely nonmonotonic) logic of confirmation -- or rather, theory assessment -- that takes into account both of these two conflicting aspects. According to this logic, a statement H is an acceptable theory for the data E if and only if H is both sufficiently plausible given E and sufficiently informative about E. Finally, the logic sheds new light on Carnap's analysis (and solves another problem of confirmation theory). (shrink)
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