Evading the IRS

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Bogen, James; Woodward, Jim
preprint description
'IRS' is our term for the logical empiricist idea that the best way to understand the epistemic bearing of observational evidence on scientific theories is to model it in terms of Inferential Relations among Sentences representing the evidence, and sentences representing hypotheses the evidence is used to evaluate. Developing ideas from our earlier work, including 'Saving the Phenomena'(Phil Review 97, 1988, p.303-52 )we argue that the bearing of observational evidence on theory depends upon causal connections and error characteristics of the processes by which data is produced and used to detect features of phenomena. Neither of these depends upon, or is greatly illuminated by a consideration of, formal relations among observation and theoretical sentences or propositions. By taking causal structures and error characteristics, you too can evade the IRS. In doing so, you can gain insight into Hempel’s raven paradox, theory loading, and other issues from the standard philosophical literature on confirmation theory.