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Hempel's Paradox, Law-likeness and Causal Relations

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It is widely thought that Bayesian confirmation theory has provided a solution to Hempel's Paradox (the Ravens Paradox). I discuss one well-known example of this approach, by John Mackie, and argue that it is unconvincing. I then suggest an alternative solution, which shows that the Bayesian approach is altogether mistaken. Nicod's Condition should be rejected because a generalisation is not confirmed by any of its instances if it is not law-like. And even law-like non-basic empirical generalisations, which are expressions of assumed underlying causal regularities, are not so confirmed if they are absurd in the light of our causal background knowledge or if their instances are not also possible instances of the relevant causal claim.

Document Type: Research Article


Publication date: 2009-07-01

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