Aspects of Scientific Explanation and Other Essays in the by Carl G. Hempel

By Carl G. Hempel


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An exposition o f the technical details of this definition has been published elsewhere;44 in the present study, which is concerned with the general logical and methodological aspects of the problem of confirmation rather than with technical details, it will be 44. In my article referred to in note 1. The logical structure of the languages to which the definition in question is applicable is that of the lower functional calculus with individual con­ stants, and with predicate constants of any degree.

4), every consistent observation report B divides all possible hypotheses into three mutually ex­ clusive classes: those confirmed by B, those disconfirmcd by B, and those with respect to which B is neutral. 3) and their consequences. 46 46. For these proofs, sec the article referred to in note 1. I should like to take this oppor­ tunity to point out and to remedy a certain defect of the definition of confirmation which was (contimud ooerUaf) [38] CONFIRMATION, INDUCTION, AND RATIONAL BELIEF Furthermore, the application of the above definition of confirmation is not restricted to hypotheses of universal conditional form (as Nicod’s criterion is, for example), nor to universal hypotheses in general; it applies, in fact, to any hypothesis which can be expressed by means o f property and relation terms of the observational vocabulary of the given language, individual names, the customary connective symbols for ‘not’, ‘and’, ‘or*, ‘if-then’, and any number ol universal and existential quantifiers.

But is it not true, after all, that very often observational data which confirm a hypothesis H are considered also as confirming a stronger hypothesis ? , while the law of gravitation refers to the force ob­ taining between any two bodies, Galileo’s law is a specialization referring to the case where one of the bodies is the earth, the other an object near its surface. In the preceding case, however, where Hooke’s law was shown to be confirmed by the observation report that a is a raven, this situation does not prevail; and here, the rule that whatever confirms a given hypothesis also confirms any stronger 39.

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