Epistemic utility and theory-choice in science: Comments on Hempel

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Feleppa, Robert

Professor Hempel has sketched a number of turns in the problem of induction, showing us in the process that the traditional problem of justifying inductive inference is inextricably bound up with problems concerning rational criteria of hypothesis and theory acceptance. In taking us through these various turns he surveys, and provides us valuable insights into, several of the guiding trends of a vast and often highly technical literature. In the interests of highlighting this valuable feature of his paper and to provide some focus for our subsequent discussion, I shall briefly review some of these turns, placing emphasis on what Hempel notes as the central relevance of certain questions raised by Richard Rudner concerning the character of scientific criteria of hypothesis acceptance. There are a number of, to my mind unsettled, issues concerning the task of the scientist qua scientist-particularly, the range of considerations that figure in the acceptance of hypotheses, and, indeed, how such "acceptance" is to be construed-and I shall direct the latter part of my commentary to these issues.

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