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In Defense of the Neyman-Pearson Theory of Confidence Intervals

Deborah G. Mayo
Philosophy of Science
Vol. 48, No. 2 (Jun., 1981), pp. 269-280
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/187185
Page Count: 12
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In Defense of the Neyman-Pearson Theory of Confidence Intervals
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Abstract

In Philosophical Problems of Statistical Inference, Seidenfeld argues that the Neyman-Pearson (NP) theory of confidence intervals is inadequate for a theory of inductive inference because, for a given situation, the 'best' NP confidence interval, [CIλ], sometimes yields intervals which are trivial (i.e., tautologous). I argue that (1) Seidenfeld's criticism of trivial intervals is based upon illegitimately interpreting confidence levels as measures of final precision; (2) for the situation which Seidenfeld considers, the 'best' NP confidence interval is not [CIλ] as Seidenfeld suggests, but rather a one-sided interval [CI0]; and since [CI0] never yields trivial intervals, NP theory escapes Seidenfeld's criticism entirely; (3) Seidenfeld's criterion of non-triviality is inadequate, for it leads him to judge an alternative confidence interval, [CI alt. ], superior to [CIλ] although [CI alt. ] results in counterintuitive inferences. I conclude that Seidenfeld has not shown that the NP theory of confidence intervals is inadequate for a theory of inductive inference.

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