For a Bayesian account of indirect confirmation

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Abstract

Laudan and Leplin have argued that empirically equivalent theories can elude underdetermination by resorting to indirect confirmation. Moreover, they have provided a qualitative account of indirect confirmation that Okasha has shown to be incoherent. In this paper, I develop Kukla's recent contention that indirect confirmation is grounded in the probability calculus. I provide a Bayesian rule to calculate the probability of a hypothesis given indirect evidence. I also suggest that the application of the rule presupposes the methodological relevance of non-empirical virtues of theories. If this is true, Laudan and Leplin's strategy will not work in many cases. Moreover, without an independent way of justifying the role of non-empirical virtues in methodology, the scientific realists cannot use indirect evidence to defeat underdetermination.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)153-173
Number of pages20
JournalDialectica
Volume56
Issue number2
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2002

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