Confirmation Theory
Fall 2006

What is the nature of inductive reasoning in science? What counts as scientific evidence for a hypothesis, a theory, an unobservable entity? To answer these questions, we will examine the virtues, problems, and variants of the Bayesian view of confirmation, and we will compare Bayesianism to some of its rivals, both historical and modern. Bayesian topics include: splitting up praise and blame among hypotheses under test; "subjective" v. "objective" Bayesianism; the question whether Bayesianism even constitutes a theory of induction; the "new theory/old evidence" problem. Other topics include: instantialist approaches to confirmation (including my own recent efforts in this direction), inference to the best explanation, the social structure of scientific inquiry. No background will be presupposed.

Class structure (PDF)

Schedule of readings (PDF)

Suggested paper topics, part I (PDF)

Suggested paper topics, part II (PDF)

Links to Strevens readings for class

Notes on Bayesian Confirmation Theory

In Praise of Instance Confirmation

The Role of the Priority Rule in Science

Priority Rule: A Worked Example