The Logic of Reliable Inquiry

Overview


There are many proposed aims for scientific inquiry--to explain or predict events, to confirm or falsify hypotheses, or to find hypotheses that cohere with our other beliefs in some logical or probabilistic sense. This book is devoted to a different proposal--that the logical structure of the scientist's method should guarantee eventual arrival at the truth given the scientist's background assumptions. Interest in this methodological property, called "logical reliability," stems from formal learning theory, ...
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Overview


There are many proposed aims for scientific inquiry--to explain or predict events, to confirm or falsify hypotheses, or to find hypotheses that cohere with our other beliefs in some logical or probabilistic sense. This book is devoted to a different proposal--that the logical structure of the scientist's method should guarantee eventual arrival at the truth given the scientist's background assumptions. Interest in this methodological property, called "logical reliability," stems from formal learning theory, which draws its insights not from the theory of probability, but from the theory of computability. Kelly first offers an accessible explanation of formal learning theory, then goes on to develop and explore a systematic framework in which various standard learning theoretic results can be seen as special cases of simpler and more general considerations. This approach answers such important questions as whether there are computable methods more reliable than Bayesian updating or Popper's method of conjectures and refutations. Finally, Kelly clarifies the relationship between the resulting framework and other standard issues in the philosophy of science, such as probability, causation, and relativism. His work is a major contribution to the literature and will be essential reading for scientists, logicians, and philosophers
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Product Details

Table of Contents

1 Introduction 3
2 Reliable Inquiry 11
3 The Demons of Passive Observation 38
4 Topology and Ideal Hypothesis Assessment 74
5 Reducibility and the Game of Science 121
6 The Demons of Computability 138
7 Computers in Search of the Truth 158
8 So Much Time, Such Little Brains 190
9 The Logic of Ideal Discovery 217
10 Computerized Discovery 246
11 Prediction 260
12 Inquiry Concerning First-Order Theories 269
13 Probability and Reliability 302
14 Experiment and Causal Inference 347
15 Relativism and Reliability 376
16 Closing Conversation 398
References 413
Index 419
Index of Symbols 432
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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 14, 2000

    Excellent modern analysis of scientific method

    This is an excellent, modern overview of the scientific method, emphasing issues and concepts from cognitive and computer science. Some parts are a bit technical, but wonderful cartoons help to make the thread of the discussion accessible.

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