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On a Bayesian Analysis of the Virtue of Unification*
Jonah N. Schupbach
Philosophy of Science
Vol. 72, No. 4 (October 2005), pp. 594-607
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/10.1086/505186
Page Count: 14
You can always find the topics here!Topics: Counterexamples, Symptomatology, Other things equal assumption, Logical givens, Ontological priority, Physicians, Bayes theorem, Statistical relevance model, Sufficient conditions, Virtue
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In three recent papers, Wayne Myrvold (1996, 2003) and Timothy McGrew (2003) have developed Bayesian accounts of the virtue of unification. In his account, McGrew demonstrates that, ceteris paribus, a hypothesis that unifies its evidence will have a higher posterior probability than a hypothesis that does not. Myrvold, on the other hand, offers a specific measure of unification that can be applied to individual hypotheses. He argues that one must account for this measure in order to calculate correctly the degree of confirmation that a hypothesis receives from its evidence. Using the probability calculus, I prove that the two accounts of unification require the same underlying inequality; thus, McGrew and Myrvold have accounted for unification in fundamentally identical probabilistic terms. I then evaluate five putative counterexamples to this account and show that these examples, far from disqualifying it, serve to clarify our notion of unification by disentangling it from a host of other concepts.
Copyright 2005 by the Philosophy of Science Association. All rights reserved.