Objective evidence and absence: Comment on Sober

Philosophical Studies 143 (1):91 - 100 (2009)
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Abstract

Elliott Sober argues that the statistical slogan “Absence of evidence is not evidence of absence” cannot be taken literally: it must be interpreted charitably as claiming that the absence of evidence is (typically) not very much evidence of absence. I offer an alternative interpretation, on which the slogan claims that absence of evidence is (typically) not objective evidence of absence. I sketch a definition of objective evidence, founded in the notion of an epistemically objective likelihood, and I show that in Sober’s paradigm case, the slogan can, on this understanding, be sustained.

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Michael Strevens
New York University