Philosophical Topics 21 (1):99-138 (1993)
|Abstract||Eliminative induction is a method for finding the truth by using evidence to eliminate false competitors. It is often characterized as "induction by means of deduction"; the accumulating evidence eliminates false hypotheses by logically contradicting them, while the true hypothesis logically entails the evidence, or at least remains logically consistent with it. If enough evidence is available to eliminate all but the most implausible competitors of a hypothesis, then (and only then) will the hypothesis become highly confirmed. I will argue that, with regard to the evaluation of hypotheses, Bayesian inductive inference is essentially a probabilistic form of induction by elimination. Bayesian induction is an extension of eliminativism to cases where, rather than contradict the evidence, false hypotheses imply that the evidence is very unlikely, much less likely than the evidence would be if some competing hypothesis were true. This is not, I think, how Bayesian induction is usually understood. The recent book by Howson and Urbach, for example, provides an excellent, comprehensive explanation and defense of the Bayesian approach; but this book scarcely remarks on Bayesian induction's eliminative nature. Nevertheless, the very essence of Bayesian induction is the refutation of false competitors of a true hypothesis, or so I will argue.|
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