European Journal for Philosophy of Science

, Volume 1, Issue 1, pp 39–46 | Cite as

Does the Bayesian solution to the paradox of confirmation really support Bayesianism?

Original Article in Philosophy of Science


Bayesians regard their solution to the paradox of confirmation as grounds for preferring their theory of confirmation to Hempel’s. They point out that, unlike Hempel, they can at least say that a black raven confirms “All ravens are black” more than a white shoe. However, I argue that this alleged advantage is cancelled out by the fact that Bayesians are equally committed to the view that a white shoe confirms “All non-black things are non-ravens” less than a black raven. In light of this, I reexamine the dialectic between Hempel and the Bayesians.


Paradox of confirmation Paradox of the ravens Bayesianism Carl Hempel 


  1. Fitelson, B. (1999). The plurality of Bayesian measures of confirmation and the problem of measure sensitivity. Philosophy of Science, 66, S362–S378.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Fitelson, B. (2002). Putting the irrelevance back into the problem of irrelevant conjunction. Philosophy of Science, 69, 611–622.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Fitelson, B., & Hawthorne, J. (2010). How Bayesian Confirmation Theory Handles the Paradox of the Ravens. In E. Eells & J. Fetzer (Eds.), The Place of Probability in Science. Chicago, IL: Open Court.Google Scholar
  4. Good, I. J. (1961). The paradox of confirmation II. British Journal for the Philosophy of Science, 12, 63–64.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Good, I. J. (1967). The white shoe is a red herring. British Journal for the Philosophy of Science, 17, 322.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Good, I. J. (1971). 46656 varieties of Bayesians. American Statistician, 25, 62–63.Google Scholar
  7. Hempel, C. G. (1945). Studies in the logic of confirmation. Mind 54, 1–26 & 97–121.Google Scholar
  8. Vranas, P. (2004). Hempel’s Raven paradox: a lacuna in the standard Bayesian solution. British Journal for the Philosophy of Science, 55, 545–560.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science + Business Media B.V. 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of PhilosophyUniversity of British ColumbiaVancouverCanada

Personalised recommendations