Bayesian Confirmation: A Means with No End

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The British Journal for the Philosophy of Science, ISSN: 0007-0882, Vol: 66, Issue: 4, Page: 737-749

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Broessel, Peter; Huber, Franz
Oxford University Press (OUP); OUP
Arts and Humanities
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article description
Any theory of confirmation must answer the following question: what is the purpose of its conception of confirmation for scientific inquiry? In this article, we argue that no Bayesian conception of confirmation can be used for its primary intended purpose, which we take to be making a claim about how worthy of belief various hypotheses are. Then we consider a different use to which Bayesian confirmation might be put, namely, determining the epistemic value of experimental outcomes, and thus to decide which experiments to carry out. Interestingly, Bayesian confirmation theorists rule out that confirmation be used for this purpose. We conclude that Bayesian confirmation is a means with no end.