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.

Hesse, Mary, and . The Hunt for Scientific Reason

1980, PSA: Proceedings of the Biennial Meeting of the Philosophy of Science Association 1980: 3-22.

Abstract: The thesis of underdetermination of theory by evidence has led to an opposition between realism and relationism in philosophy of science. Various forms of the thesis are examined, and it is concluded that it is true in at least a weak form that brings realism into doubt. Realists therefore need, among other things, a theory of degrees of confirmation to support rational theory choice. Recent such theories due to Glymour and Friedman are examined, and it is argued that their criterion of “unification” for good theories is better formulated in Bayesian terms. Bayesian confirmation does, however, have consequences that tell against realism. It is concluded that the prospects are dim for scientific realism as usually understood.

Comment: Good article to study in depth the concepts of realism, underdetermination, confirmation and Bayesian theory. It will be most useful for postgraduate students in philosophy of science.

Shogenji, Tomoji, and . The Degree of Epistemic Justification and the Conjunction Fallacy

2012, Synthese 184 (1): 29-48.

Abstract: This paper describes a formal measure of epistemic justification motivated by the dual goal of cognition, which is to increase true beliefs and reduce false beliefs. From this perspective the degree of epistemic justification should not be the conditional probability of the proposition given the evidence, as it is commonly thought. It should be determined instead by the combination of the conditional probability and the prior probability. This is also true of the degree of incremental confirmation, and I argue that any measure of epistemic justification is also a measure of incremental confirmation. However, the degree of epistemic justification must meet an additional condition, and all known measures of incremental confirmation fail to meet it. I describe this additional condition as well as a measure that meets it. The paper then applies the measure to the conjunction fallacy and proposes an explanation of the fallacy.

Comment: This interesting paper on epistemic justification requires prerequisite knowledge on formal epistemology. It is hence suitable for an advanced undergraduate course or graduate course on epistemology or formal epistemology.