Empirical progress and truth approximation by the 'hypothetico-probabilistic method'

Erkenntnis 70 (3):313 - 330 (2009)
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Abstract

Three related intuitions are explicated in this paper. The first is the idea that there must be some kind of probabilistic version of the HD-method, a ‘Hypothetico-Probabilistic (HP-) method’, in terms of something like probabilistic consequences, instead of deductive consequences. According to the second intuition, the comparative application of this method should also be functional for some probabilistic kind of empirical progress, and according to the third intuition this should be functional for something like probabilistic truth approximation. In all three cases, the guiding idea is to explicate these intuitions by explicating the crucial notions as appropriate ‘concretizations’ of their deductive analogs, being ‘idealizations’. It turns out that the comparative version of the proposed HP-method amounts to the likelihood comparison (LC-) method applied to the cumulated evidence. This method turns out to be not only functional for probabilistic empirical progress but also for probabilistic truth approximation. The latter is based on a probabilistic threshold theorem constituting for this reason the analog of the deductive success theorem.

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