William Peden
Erasmus University Rotterdam
In the Paradox of the Ravens, a set of otherwise intuitive claims about evidence seems to be inconsistent. Most attempts at answering the paradox involve rejecting a member of the set, which seems to require a conflict either with commonsense intuitions or with some of our best confirmation theories. In contrast, I argue that the appearance of an inconsistency is misleading: ‘confirms’ and cognate terms feature a significant ambiguity when applied to universal generalisations. In particular, the claim that some evidence confirms a universal generalisation ordinarily suggests, in part, that the evidence confirms the reliability of predicting that something which satisfies the antecedent will also satisfy the consequent. I distinguish between the familiar relation of confirmation simpliciter and what I shall call ‘predictive confirmation’. I use them to formulate my answer, illustrate it in a very simple probabilistic model, and defend it against objections. I conclude that, once our evidential concepts are sufficiently clarified, there is no sense in which the initial claims are both plausible and inconsistent.
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DOI 10.1007/s10838-019-09485-3
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Laws of Nature.Fred Dretske - 1977 - Philosophy of Science 44 (2):248-268.
A New Bayesian Solution to the Paradox of the Ravens.Susanna Rinard - 2014 - Philosophy of Science 81 (1):81-100.
Studies in the Logic of Confirmation.Carl A. Hempel - 1983 - In Peter Achinstein (ed.), The Concept of Evidence. Oxford University Press. pp. 1-26.

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