Journal Article

The Bayesian Treatment of Auxiliary Hypotheses

Michael Strevens

in The British Journal for the Philosophy of Science

Published on behalf of British Society for the Philosophy of Science

Volume 52, issue 3, pages 515-537
Published in print September 2001 | ISSN: 0007-0882
Published online September 2001 | e-ISSN: 1464-3537 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/bjps/52.3.515
The Bayesian Treatment of Auxiliary Hypotheses

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This paper examines the standard Bayesian solution to the Quine–Duhem problem, the problem of distributing blame between a theory and its auxiliary hypotheses in the aftermath of a failed prediction. The standard solution, I argue, begs the question against those who claim that the problem has no solution. I then provide an alternative Bayesian solution that is not question‐begging and that turns out to have some interesting and desirable properties not possessed by the standard solution. This solution opens the way to a satisfying treatment of a problem concerning ad hoc auxiliary hypotheses.

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Subjects: Philosophy of Science ; Science and Mathematics

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