David Bourget (Western Ontario)
David Chalmers (ANU, NYU)
Rafael De Clercq
Jack Alan Reynolds
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International Studies in the Philosophy of Science 9 (1):37 – 58 (1995)
Reichenbach emphasizes the central importance of prediction, which is—for him—the principal aim of science. This paper offers a critical reconstruction of his concept of prediction, taking into account the different periods of his thought. First, prediction is studied as a key factor in rejecting the positivism of the Vienna Circle. This part of the discussion concentres on the general features of prediction before Experience and Prediction (EP) (section 1). Second, prediction is considered in the context of Reichenbach's disagreements with his contemporaries—Carnap and Popper—(section 2). Pointing out these differences gives an additional basis for understanding how Reichenbach saw “prediction” in the period when EP was written. Third, Reichenbach's theoretical framework of prediction is analysed following EP. This analysis studies the semantical, logical, epistemological and methodological bases of his concept of prediction (section 3). Fourth, Reichenbach's conception of prediction, based on an objectivist interpretation of probabilities, is compared with the perspective on prediction of subjective Bayesians (the present personalists). This comparison (section 4) illustrates Reichenbach's views regarding the links of prediction with probability. Fifth, innovations and elements of continuity after EP are noted which give a more complete picture of Reichenbach's thought on prediction (section 5). This contributes to a comprehensive characterization of his concept of prediction. Finally, there is an assessment of his whole view of the matter and a presentation of the ingredients for a satisfactory alternative (section 6).
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