Empirical Progress and Nomic Truth Approximation by the ‘Hypothetico-Probabilistic Method’

  • Theo A. F. Kuipers
Part of the Synthese Library book series (SYLI, volume 399)


Three related intuitions are explicated in this chapter. The first is the idea that there must be some kind of probabilistic version of the HD-method, a ‘Hypothetico-Probabilistic (HP-) method’, in terms of something like probabilistic consequences, instead of deductive consequences. According to the second intuition, the comparative application of this method should also be functional for some probabilistic kind of empirical progress, and according to the third intuition this should be functional for something like probabilistic truth approximation. In all three cases, the guiding idea is to explicate these intuitions by explicating the crucial notions as appropriate ‘concretizations’ of their basic or deductive analogues, being ‘idealizations’.

It turns out that the comparative version of the proposed HP-method amounts to a sophisticated likelihood ratio success (SLRS-) method applied to the cumulated evidence. This method turns out to be not only functional for probabilistic empirical progress but also for probabilistic truth approximation. The latter is based on a probabilistic threshold theorem constituting for this reason the analogue of the deductive success theorem.

This chapter is in fact a supplement to Chap.  5. Despite some terminological deviation, there is substantial partial overlap to enable independent reading.


Hypothetico-probabilistic method HP-method Probabilistic empirical progress Probabilistic truth approximation Quantitative truth approximation Sophisticated likelihood method Probabilistic success theorem Inference to the best theory 


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© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Theo A. F. Kuipers
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Theoretical PhilosophyUniversity of GroningenGroningenThe Netherlands

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