The Book of Evidence
Oxford University Press, Sep 20, 2001 - Science - 304 pages
What is required for something to be evidence for a hypothesis? In this fascinating, elegantly written work, distinguished philosopher of science Peter Achinstein explores this question, rejecting typical philosophical and statistical theories of evidence. He claims these theories are much too weak to give scientists what they want--a good reason to believe--and, in some cases, they furnish concepts that mistakenly make all evidential claims a priori. Achinstein introduces four concepts of evidence, defines three of them by reference to "potential" evidence, and characterizes the latter using a novel epistemic interpretation of probability. The resulting theory is then applied to philosophical and historical issues. Solutions are provided to the "grue," "ravens," "lottery," and "old-evidence" paradoxes, and to a series of questions. These include whether explanations or predictions furnish more evidential weight, whether individual hypotheses or entire theoretical systems can receive evidential support, what counts as a scientific discovery, and what sort of evidence is required for it. The historical questions include whether Jean Perrin had non-circular evidence for the existence of molecules, what type of evidence J. J. Thomson offered for the existence of the electron, and whether, as is usually supposed, he really discovered the electron. Achinstein proposes answers in terms of the concepts of evidence introduced. As the premier book in the fabulous new series Oxford Studies in Philosophy of Science, this volume is essential for philosophers of science and historians of science, as well as for statisticians, scientists with philosophical interests, and anyone curious about scientific reasoning.
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1 The Deans Challenge
2 Concepts of Evidence or How the Electron Got Its Charge
3 Two Major Probabilistic Theories of Evidence
4 Whats Wrong with These Probabilistic Theories of Evidence?
5 Objective Epistemic Probability
6 Evidence High Probability and Belief
7 The Explanatory Connection
8 Final Definitions and Realism
argument assumption atoms Avogadro's believe h bleen Brownian motion Carnap cathode rays chapter concept of evidence condition conﬁdence conﬁrm conﬁrmation connection between h counterexamples deﬁned deﬁnition of evidence deﬂection degree of belief degree of reasonableness dence depends determine discovery e is evidence electrical emeralds empirical epistemic probability epistemic situation ES-evidence evidence that h example experimental results experiments explanation explanatory connection fact false ﬁrst ﬂawed given grue h is true h's probability Hertz high probability holism hypothesis h justiﬁed in believing land heads lottery Maher microconditions nonblack things nonravens objective epistemic observed obtain particles Perrin Peter Achinstein potential and veridical potential evidence prediction priori probabilistic probability of h propensity proposition question ravens reason to believe relative frequency relativized requires satisﬁed saves the phenomena scientiﬁc scientists selection procedure sense subjective evidence sufﬁcient Suppose symptoms theory Thomson threshold tickets tion toss truth veridical evidence Wheaties
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