Philosophical Studies

, Volume 139, Issue 2, pp 181–189 | Cite as

Hempel’s logic of confirmation



This paper presents a new analysis of C.G. Hempel’s conditions of adequacy for any relation of confirmation [Hempel C. G. (1945). Aspects of scientific explanation and other essays in the philosophy of science. New York: The Free Press, pp. 3–51.], differing from the one Carnap gave in §87 of his [1962. Logical foundations of probability (2nd ed.). Chicago: University of Chicago Press.]. Hempel, it is argued, felt the need for two concepts of confirmation: one aiming at true hypotheses and another aiming at informative hypotheses. However, he also realized that these two concepts are conflicting, and he gave up the concept of confirmation aiming at informative hypotheses. I then show that one can have Hempel’s cake and eat it too. There is a logic that takes into account both of these two conflicting aspects. According to this logic, a sentence H is an acceptable hypothesis for evidence E if and only if H is both sufficiently plausible given E and sufficiently informative about E. Finally, the logic sheds new light on Carnap’s analysis.


Actual World Strong Hypothesis Informativeness Relation Plausibility Relation Acceptable Hypothesis 
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This research was supported by the Ahmanson Foundation as well as by the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation, the Federal Ministry of Education and Research, and the Program for the Investment in the Future (ZIP) of the German Government through a Sofja Kovalevskaja Award, while I was a member of the Philosophy, Probability, and Modeling group at the Center for Junior Research Fellows at the University of Konstanz.


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© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2007

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Division of Humanities and Social SciencesCalifornia Institute of TechnologyPasadenaUSA

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