Confirmation theory

In Prasanta S. Bandyopadhyay & Malcolm Forster (eds.), Handbook of the Philosophy of Science, Vol. 7: Philosophy of Statistics. Elsevier (2011)
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Abstract

Confirmation theory is the study of the logic by which scientific hypotheses may be confirmed or disconfirmed, or even refuted by evidence. A specific theory of confirmation is a proposal for such a logic. Presumably the epistemic evaluation of scientific hypotheses should largely depend on their empirical content – on what they say the evidentially accessible parts of the world are like, and on the extent to which they turn out to be right about that. Thus, all theories of confirmation rely on measures of how well various alternative hypotheses account for the evidence.1 Most contemporary confirmation theories employ probability functions to provide such a measure. They measure how well the evidence fits what the hypothesis says about the world in terms of how likely it is that the evidence should occur were the hypothesis true. Such hypothesis-based probabilities of evidence claims are called likelihoods. Clearly, when the evidence is more likely according to one hypothesis than according to an alternative, that should redound to the credit of the former hypothesis and the discredit of the later. But various theories of confirmation diverge on precisely how this credit is to be measured?

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James Hawthorne
University of Oklahoma

Citations of this work

There Is No Pure Empirical Reasoning.Michael Huemer - 2017 - Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 95 (3):592-613.
Why It Is Time To Move Beyond Nagelian Reduction.Marie I. Kaiser - 2012 - In D. Dieks, W. J. Gonzalez, S. Hartmann, M. Stöltzner & M. Weber (eds.), Probabilities, Laws, and Structures. The Philosophy of Science in a European Perspective. Heidelberg, GER: Springer. pp. 255-272.

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