From relative confirmation to real confirmation

Philosophy of Science 55 (2):265-271 (1988)
Recent work on the logical theory of confirmation has centered on accounts of the confirmation of hypotheses relative to auxiliary assumptions or background theory. Whether such relative confirmation actually increases the credibility of the (relatively) confirmed hypothesis will depend in various ways on the epistemic status of the auxiliaries involved. Most obviously, if the auxiliaries are not themselves credible, confirmation relative to them will not increase the credibility of the hypothesis thus confirmed. A complete theory of confirmation must thus combine an account of relative confirmation with an account of the route from relative confirmation to real confirmation. Some recent criticisms of hypothetico-deductive and bootstrapping accounts of relative confirmation are undermined by failure to appreciate the limitations of relative confirmation
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