Authors
Elliott Sober
University of Wisconsin, Madison
Abstract
This paper defends two theses about probabilistic reasoning. First, although modus ponens has a probabilistic analog, modus tollens does not – the fact that a hypothesis says that an observation is very improbable does not entail that the hypothesis is improbable. Second, the evidence relation is essentially comparative; with respect to hypotheses that confer probabilities on observation statements but do not entail them, an observation O may favor one hypothesis H1 over another hypothesis H2 , but O cannot be said to confirm or disconfirm H1 without such relativization. These points have serious consequences for the Intelligent Design movement. Even if evolutionary theory entailed that various complex adaptations are very improbable, that would neither disconfirm the theory nor support the hypothesis of intelligent design. For either of these conclusions to follow, an additional question must be answered: With respect to the adaptive features that evolutionary theory allegedly says are very improbable, what is their probability of arising if they were produced by intelligent design? This crucial question has not been addressed by the ID movement.
Keywords Philosophy
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Reprint years 2004
DOI 10.1023/A:1019579220694
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References found in this work BETA

Testability.Elliott Sober - 1999 - Proceedings and Addresses of the American Philosophical Association 73 (2):47-76.

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Citations of this work BETA

What's Epistemically Wrong with Conspiracy Theorising?Keith Harris - 2018 - Royal Institute of Philosophy Supplement 84:235-257.
Firing Squads and Fine-Tuning: Sober on the Design Argument.Jonathan Weisberg - 2005 - British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 56 (4):809-821.

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