In the Paradox of the Ravens, a set of otherwise intuitive claims about evidence seems to be inconsistent. Most attempts at answering the paradox involve rejecting a member of the set, which seems to require a conflict either with commonsense intuitions or with some of our best confirmation theories. In contrast, I argue that the appearance of an inconsistency is misleading: ‘confirms’ and cognate terms feature a significant ambiguity when applied to universal generalisations. In particular, the claim that some evidence confirms a universal generalisation ordinarily suggests, in part, that the evidence confirms the reliability of predicting that something which satisfies the antecedent will also satisfy the consequent. I distinguish between the familiar relation of confirmation simpliciter and what I shall call ‘predictive confirmation’. I use them to formulate my answer, illustrate it in a very simple probabilistic model, and defend it against objections. I conclude that, once our evidential concepts are sufficiently clarified, there is no sense in which the initial claims are both plausible and inconsistent.
|Number of pages||20|
|Journal||Journal for General Philosophy of Science|
|Early online date||27 Dec 2019|
|Publication status||Published - Mar 2020|
- Inductive logic
- Paradox of Confirmation
- Paradox of the Ravens