On the Use of Likelihood as a Guide to Truth

PSA: Proceedings of the Biennial Meeting of the Philosophy of Science Association 1980:117 - 128 (1980)
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Abstract

Confirmation functions are generally thought of as probability functions. The well known difficulties associated with the probabilistic confirmation functions proposed to date indicate that functions other than probability functions should be investigated for the purpose of developing an adequate basis for confirmation theory. This paper deals with one such function, the likelihood function. First, it is argued here that likelihood is not a probability function. Second, a proof is given that, in the limit, likelihood can be used to determine which of two observationally distinct hypotheses is true. Finally, a demonstration is given that, in the presence of a finite amount of experimental information, likelihood can serve as a good estimator of truth.

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