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The Old Evidence Problem and the Inference to the Best Explanation

Sagrafena, Cristina (2022) The Old Evidence Problem and the Inference to the Best Explanation. [Preprint]

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Abstract

The Problem of Old Evidence (POE) states that Bayesian confirmation theory cannot explain why a theory H can be confirmed by a piece of evidence E already known. Different dimensions of POE have been highlighted. Here, I consider the dynamic and static dimension. In the former, we want to explain how the discovery that H accounts for E confirms H. In the latter, we want to understand why E is and will be a reason to prefer H over its competitors. The aim of the paper is twofold. Firstly, I stress that two recent solutions to the dynamic dimension, recently proposed by Eva and Hartmann, can be read in terms of Inference to the Best Explanation (IBE). On this basis, I gauge the weaknesses and strengths of the two models by showing that the two authors endorse a particular formulation of IBE, and that it is still unsure if it is the one descriptively used. Moreover, I contend that, while one condition of their first model is not expression of this formulation, the only condition of their second model is. Secondly, I focus on the static dimension of POE which, now, has to be expressed in IBE terms. To solve it, I rely on the counterfactual approach, and on a version of IBE in which explanatory considerations help to evaluate the terms in Bayes’ theorem. However, it turns out that the problems of the counterfactual approach recur even when it is used to solve the static POE in IBE terms.


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Item Type: Preprint
Creators:
CreatorsEmailORCID
Sagrafena, Cristinacsagrafena@gmail.com0000-0002-3506-0340
Additional Information: This article was accepted for publication in the European Journal for Philosophy of Science, but it has not been published yet. The date entered refers to the day in which this article was accepted for publication.
Keywords: Bayesian Confirmation Theory; Problem of Old Evidence; Dynamic and Static Problem of Old Evidence; Inference to the Best Explanation; Bayesian Inference to the Best Explanation.
Subjects: General Issues > Confirmation/Induction
General Issues > Evidence
General Issues > Explanation
Specific Sciences > Probability/Statistics
General Issues > Theory/Observation
Depositing User: Dr. Cristina Sagrafena
Date Deposited: 27 Dec 2022 18:29
Last Modified: 27 Dec 2022 18:29
Item ID: 21591
Subjects: General Issues > Confirmation/Induction
General Issues > Evidence
General Issues > Explanation
Specific Sciences > Probability/Statistics
General Issues > Theory/Observation
Date: 26 December 2022
URI: https://philsci-archive-dev.library.pitt.edu/id/eprint/21591

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