Model-Selection Theory: The Need for a More Nuanced Picture of Use-Novelty and Double-Counting

British Journal for the Philosophy of Science:axw024 (2016)
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Abstract

This article argues that common intuitions regarding (a) the specialness of ‘use-novel’ data for confirmation and (b) that this specialness implies the ‘no-double-counting rule’, which says that data used in ‘constructing’ (calibrating) a model cannot also play a role in confirming the model’s predictions, are too crude. The intuitions in question are pertinent in all the sciences, but we appeal to a climate science case study to illustrate what is at stake. Our strategy is to analyse the intuitive claims in light of prominent accounts of confirmation of model predictions. We show that on the Bayesian account of confirmation, and also on the standard classical hypothesis-testing account, claims (a) and (b) are not generally true; but for some select cases, it is possible to distinguish data used for calibration from use-novel data, where only the latter confirm. The more specialized classical model-selection methods, on the other hand, uphold a nuanced version of claim (a), but this comes apart from (b), which must be rejected in favour of a more refined account of the relationship between calibration and confirmation. Thus, depending on the framework of confirmation, either the scope or the simplicity of the intuitive position must be revised.

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Author Profiles

Katie Steele
Australian National University
Charlotte Werndl
University of Salzburg

Citations of this work

Models in Search of Targets: Exploratory Modelling and the Case of Turing Patterns.Axel Gelfert - 2018 - In A. Christian, David Hommen, N. Retzlaff & Gerhard Schurz (eds.), Philosophy of Science. European Studies in Philosophy of Science, vol 9. Cham: Springer International Publishing. pp. 245-269.
Predictivism and model selection.Alireza Fatollahi - 2023 - European Journal for Philosophy of Science 13 (1):1-28.

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References found in this work

Prediction versus accommodation and the risk of overfitting.Christopher Hitchcock & Elliott Sober - 2004 - British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 55 (1):1-34.
Logical versus historical theories of confirmation.Alan Musgrave - 1974 - British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 25 (1):1-23.
Climate Models, Calibration, and Confirmation.Katie Steele & Charlotte Werndl - 2013 - British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 64 (3):609-635.
Novel evidence and severe tests.Deborah G. Mayo - 1991 - Philosophy of Science 58 (4):523-552.

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