Betting on Theories

Cambridge, New York and Melbourne: Cambridge University Press (1993)

Abstract

This book is a major contribution to decision theory, focusing on the question of when it is rational to accept scientific theories. The author examines both Bayesian decision theory and confirmation theory, refining and elaborating the views of Ramsey and Savage. He argues that the most solid foundation for confirmation theory is to be found in decision theory, and he provides a decision-theoretic derivation of principles for how many probabilities should be revised over time. Professor Maher defines a notion of accepting a hypothesis, and then shows that it is not reducible to probability and that it is needed to deal with some important questions in the philosophy of science. A Bayesian decision-theoretic account of rational acceptance is provided together with a proof of the foundations for this theory. A final chapter shows how this account can be used to cast light on such vexed issues as verisimilitude and scientific realism.

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