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Putting the Irrelevance Back Into the Problem of Irrelevant Conjunction

Branden Fitelson
Philosophy of Science
Vol. 69, No. 4 (December 2002), pp. 611-622
DOI: 10.1086/344624
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/10.1086/344624
Page Count: 12
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Putting the Irrelevance Back Into the Problem of Irrelevant Conjunction
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Abstract

Abstract Naive deductive accounts of confirmation have the undesirable consequence that if E confirms H, then E also confirms the conjunction H & X, for any X—even if X is utterly irrelevant to H (and E). Bayesian accounts of confirmation also have this property (in the case of deductive evidence). Several Bayesians have attempted to soften the impact of this fact by arguing that—according to Bayesian accounts of confirmation— E will confirm the conjunction H & X less strongly than E confirms H (again, in the case of deductive evidence). I argue that existing Bayesian “resolutions” of this problem are inadequate in several important respects. In the end, I suggest a new‐and‐improved Bayesian account (and understanding) of the problem of irrelevant conjunction.

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