May 112017

Dizadji-Bahmani, Foad, Frigg, Roman and Hartmann, Stephan. Confirmation and reduction: A bayesian account

2011, Synthese,79(2): 321-338.

Abstract: Various scientific theories stand in a reductive relation to each other. In a recent article, the authors argue that a generalized version of the Nagel-Schaffner model (GNS) is the right account of this relation. In this article, they present a Bayesian analysis of how GNS impacts on confirmation. They formalize the relation between the reducing and the reduced theory before and after the reduction using Bayesian networks, and thereby show that, post-reduction, the two theories are confirmatory of each other. They ask when a purported reduction should be accepted on epistemic grounds. To do so, they compare the prior and posterior probabilities of the conjunction of both theories before and after the reduction and ask how well each is confirmed by the available evidence

Comment: This article is an interesting reading for advanced courses in philosophy of science or logic. It could serve as further reading for modules focused on Bayesian networks, reduction or confirmation. Previous knowledge of bayesianism is required for understanding the article. No previous knowledge of thermodynamics is needed.

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