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The Paradox of Confirmation



Hempel first introduced the paradox of confirmation in 1937. Since then, a very extensive literature on the paradox has evolved (Vranas 2004). Much of this literature can be seen as responding to Hempel's subsequent discussions and analyses of the paradox (Hempel 1945). Recently, it was noted that Hempel's intuitive (and plausible) resolution of the paradox was inconsistent with his official theory of confirmation (Fitelson and Hawthorne 2006). In this article, we will try to explain how this inconsistency affects the historical dialectic about the paradox and how it illuminates the nature of confirmation. In the end, we will argue that Hempel's intuitions about the paradox of confirmation were (basically) correct, and that it is his theory that should be rejected, in favor of a (broadly) Bayesian account of confirmation.

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