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A Conciliatory Answer to the Paradox of the Ravens

Peden, William (2020) A Conciliatory Answer to the Paradox of the Ravens. Journal for General Philosophy of Science, 51 (1). pp. 46-64. ISSN 0925-4560

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Abstract

In the Paradox of the Ravens, a set of otherwise intuitive claims about evidence seems to be inconsistent. Most attempts at answering the paradox involve rejecting a member of the set, which seems to require a conflict either with commonsense intuitions or with some of our best confirmation theories. In contrast, I argue that the appearance of an inconsistency is misleading: ‘confirms’ and cognate terms feature a significant ambiguity when applied to universal generalisations. In particular, the claim that some evidence confirms a universal generalisation ordinarily suggests, in part, that the evidence confirms the reliability of predicting that something which satisfies the antecedent will also satisfy the consequent. I distinguish between the familiar relation of confirmation simpliciter and what I shall call ‘predictive confirmation’. I use them to formulate my answer, illustrate it in a very simple probabilistic model, and defend it against objections. I conclude that, once our evidential concepts are sufficiently clarified, there is no sense in which the initial claims are both plausible and inconsistent.


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Item Type: Published Article or Volume
Creators:
CreatorsEmailORCID
Peden, Williamw.j.peden@durham.ac.uk0000-0002-3474-7861
Keywords: Paradox of the Ravens; Carl Hempel; induction; confirmation; Bayesianism
Subjects: General Issues > Confirmation/Induction
General Issues > Evidence
Depositing User: Dr. William Peden
Date Deposited: 16 Dec 2020 15:59
Last Modified: 16 Dec 2020 15:59
Item ID: 18515
Journal or Publication Title: Journal for General Philosophy of Science
DOI or Unique Handle: https://doi.org/10.1007/s10838-019-09485-3
Subjects: General Issues > Confirmation/Induction
General Issues > Evidence
Date: 2020
Page Range: pp. 46-64
Volume: 51
Number: 1
ISSN: 0925-4560
URI: https://philsci-archive-dev.library.pitt.edu/id/eprint/18515

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