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Confirmation, Induction and Science

  • Joint conference with the Center for Philo-sophy of Science, University of Pittsburgh
  • Thursday 8 March - Saturday 10 March, 2007
  • London School of Economics

What distinguishes science from all other human endeavours is that the accounts of the world that our best, mature sciences deliver are strongly supported by evidence and this evidence gives us the strongest reason to believe them. While this is the distinctive mark of science, unanimity has still to emerge among philosophers of science about the logic of confirmation and induction used to relate evidence to science.

Opinions on confirmation and induction diverge wildly in philosophy of science. At one extreme are those such as the Bayesians, who believe that the true system of inductive logic has been found and all that needs to be resolved are the details. At the other are skeptics, such as some supporters of the underdetermination thesis, who hold that no logic can vindicate the level of support scientists claim for their best, mature theories, for, they urge, the real inductive import of evidence cannot be that decisive.

Between these extreme are many intermediate positions, including the view that the very nature of inductive inference remains poorly understood. Our goal in this conference is to bring together representatives from as many of these viewpoints as possible in order to advance our understanding of this problem.