Bayesian Confirmation Theory: Inductive Logic or Mere Inductive Framework?
Published: Synthese, 141:365–379. 2004.
Abstract: To what extent is Bayesianism a positive confirmation theory, delivering particular judgements as to how evidence bears on scientific theories, and to what extent is it, as Colin Howson (Hume's Problems) has recently claimed, more like a framework for confirmation theory capable of accommodating any kind of substantive inductive assumption about the proper relation between evidence and theory? I ask these questions of what is perhaps the most popular version of Bayesian confirmation theory, that presented recently in Howson and Urbach's Scientific Reasoning and Earman's Bayes or Bust?, which I call, after Earman, modern Bayesianism. I conclude that
- Modern Bayesianism is more of a positive confirmation theory than Howson suggests, but that
- The principal source of modern Bayesianism's positive judgments of inductive relevance is not the Bayesian machinery itself, but rather what David Lewis calls the
I then explain why the Principal Principle has, incorrectly, not traditionally been regarded as an inductive assumption.
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