Why I am not a Bayesian

  • Clark GlymourEmail author
Part of the Springer Graduate Texts in Philosophy book series (SGTP, volume 1)


The aim of confirmation theory is to provide a true account of the principles that guide scientific argument in so far as that argument is not, and does not purport to be, of a deductive kind. A confirmation theory should serve as a critical and explanatory instrument quite as much as do theories of deductive inference. Any successful confirmation theory should, for example, reveal the structure and fallacies, if any, in Newton’s argument for universal gravitation, in nineteenth-century arguments for and against the atomic theory, in Freud’s arguments for psychoanalytic generalizations. Where scientific judgements are widely shared, and sociological factors cannot explain their ubiquity, and analysis through the lens provided by confirmation theory reveals no good explicit arguments for the judgements, confirmation theory ought at least sometimes to suggest some good arguments that may have been lurking misperceived. Theories of deductive inference do that much for scientific reasoning in so far as that reasoning is supposed to be demonstrative. We can apply quantification theory to assess the validity of scientific arguments, and although we must almost always treat such arguments as enthymematic, the premisses we interpolate are not arbitrary; in many cases, as when the same subject-matter is under discussion, there is a common set of suppressed premisses. Again, there may be differences about the correct logical form of scientific claims; differences of this kind result in (or from) different formalizations, for example, of classical mechanics. But such differences often make no difference for the assessment of validity in actual arguments. Confirmation theory should do as well in its own domain. If it fails, then it may still be of interest for many purposes, but not for the purpose of understanding scientific reasoning.


Prior Probability Scientific Reasoning Scientific Argument Deductive Inference Average Likelihood 
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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing Switzerland 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Carnegie Mellon UniversityPittsburghUSA

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